Indiana Falls Flat in 2nd Half, Loses to Michigan St.

Indiana Falls Flat in 2nd Half, Loses to Michigan St.

EAST LANSING, MI (WFIE) - Not long after Indiana upset No. 4 Iowa at home late Thursday night, Indiana head coach Tom Creancautioned things weren't going to get any easier for his team in the coming weeks.

That proved to be the case Sunday afternoon.

No. 8 Michigan State (21-5, 8-5) outscored Indiana by 18 points in the second half to defeat the Hoosiers 88-69 in East Lansing. The loss momentarily puts Iowa atop the Big Ten standings with the Hoosiers (20-6, 10-3) falling into a tie for second.

"Michigan State played outstanding," Crean said. "The markers of the game that we really had to make sure we didn't let happen, they happened."

Crean made a starting lineup change for the first time since the Big Ten opener, inserting fifth-year senior Max Bielfeldt in to replace junior Collin Hartman to match up with Michigan State's Deyonta Davis and Matt Costello in the frontcourt.

Bielfeldt made the most of his fourth start of the season, registering team highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He played a hand in Indiana's first-half surge, scoring 10 of IU's 40 points in the first 20 minutes.

"For a while, he was the best player on the floor," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said of Bielfeldt.

Eight of Bielfeldt's points came over a stretch of 7:18 midway through the first half where Indiana made 11-of-14 field goal tries to build a 10-point lead with just under eight minutes to play. The Hoosiers made 13-of-23 shots up to that point, including 6-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc.

But as quickly as the Hoosiers heated up, they went cold again.

IU ended the game with 13 more makes on its final 46 field goal tries.

"I think the ball stopped moving," sophomore guard Robert Johnson said. "Once they started to go on their run, we kind of got on our heels a little bit."

Michigan State senior guard Denzel Valentine did enough damage to take advantage of Indiana's cold shooting in the latter stages of the game. One year after hitting a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to beat Ohio State, Valentine put up 30 points, a career-high 13 assists and five rebounds.

Costello, a senior forward, had a career-high 22 points of his own to go with 11 rebounds. But much of the game belonged to Valentine, who sought out, found and connected on open looks regardless of who was in his way.

"Denzel and Matt were outstanding," Crean said. "They didn't need a lot of other guys today. We let those guys get to their strengths, and when you're playing a great team with great players, you just can't let them get to that."

Indiana's loss only tightens things up at the top of the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers now find themselves tied with Maryland for second place in the conference behind Iowa with Michigan one game behind in fourth place.

Over the course of the season, the Hoosiers, at times, have looked like a Big Ten title contender, maybe more. The previous game's win over No. 4 Iowa seemed to prove as much. They even had Izzo admitting that Sunday's matchup against Indiana scared him more than any game this season.

But then there's losses like the one in East Lansing. Crean knew it could happen. It might happen again.

It's up to Indiana to determine which version of itself it'll be.

"You learn a lot about yourself and about your team over the season," Bielfeldt said. "We're coming up on March, we're midway through February, and we learn some things every game. We learn how we play certain ways and when teams expose what we're good at.

"I think as long as long as we just keep adapting and make sure we keep getting better, that's when we can really make the best possible version of ourselves come late season."

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