BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Tom Izzo felt like the unluckiest coach in the Big Ten all season.
On Saturday, his players turned that title around.
Travis Trice scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half, and Michigan State barely staved off Indiana’s frantic final charge for a 74-72 victory that had the Spartans’ longtime coach rethinking his strategy over the 3 1/2.
”There’s no way I make enough money to do this, and I mean that kiddingly. I got overpaid today. I didn’t do a very good job,” a relieved Izzo said. ”I guess I look at it like I got outcoached, we got outplayed down the stretch. But we’ve been unlucky a lot this year and maybe luck came to our side for once.”
Izzo blamed himself for putting his team in that spot Saturday.
Leading 73-71 with two seconds left, Denzel Valentine inexplicably fouled Kevin ”Yogi” Ferrell as he was nearing half court. Ferrell, Indiana’s best free throw shooter, made the first. The second rolled off the rim. Afterward, Izzo said the plan was not to foul.
Indiana quickly fouled Marvin Clark Jr. on the rebound. He missed the first, then was instructed to miss the second with 0.5 seconds left. Clark made it anyway, giving the Hoosiers one more chance for a desperation heave. Nick Zeisloft’s 40-footer came up short.
The surging Spartans (21-10, 12-6) have won two straight and six of their last eight to have a shot at the No. 3 seed in next week’s conference tournament.
”I didn’t do a very good job down the stretch and that’s happened a couple times this year,” Izzo said. ”I thought they did a marvelous job down the stretch fouling and trapping and the things they did, making shots.”
Indiana (19-12, 9-9) almost did enough to pull off an incredible comeback.
Ferrell finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Zeisloft and James Blackmon Jr. each scored 17 points.
Blackmon also had seven rebounds and would have had a chance to tie the score when he drew a foul beyond the 3-point line with five seconds left. The officials ruled the foul occurred on the floor, and Blackmon made both to cut the deficit to one.
Ferrell did get a chance to tie it on the line but only made the first as the Hoosiers lost their third in a row.
”The first one rolled in. I guess the basketball gods were good to me on that first free throw, and then the second one just rolled out,” Ferrell said. ”Pretty disappointing missing the second one, but it happens.”
Michigan State appeared to have it wrapped up with a 67-56 lead and 3:42 to go.
But Indiana stormed back with six straight points.
When the Spartans missed seven free throws in the final two minutes, they continued cutting into Michigan State’s lead. They just couldn’t tie the score or take the lead.
”We weren’t very sharp, we didn’t do the things we do,” Izzo said. ”The good news is we got some guys experience.”
Michigan State: The Spartans were missing their top rebounder, Branden Dawson. The northern Indiana native got hit in the head in Wednesday’s victory over Purdue and couldn’t finish that game.
Indiana: With no seniors on Indiana’s roster, the Hoosiers decided to honor the seniors from the 1974-75 team that went 18-0 in Big Ten play and was undefeated until the NCAA tournament. Coach Bob Knight has said that team was better than the 1976 national champions, the last Division I men’s team to go undefeated.
Indiana’s Assembly Hall will have a new look next season with offseason renovations scheduled to begin April 1. The work is expected to be completed by October 2016. Changes include adding suites, building a new entry way and a new ticket window.
Michigan State travels to Chicago for Big Ten tournament against unknown opponent.
Indiana travels to Chicago for Big Ten tournament against unknown opponent.