Indiana Can't Hold onto Lead and Loses First Game of Season 80-65 to Michigan St

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIDecember 28, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 19:  Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Howard Bison at Assembly Hall on December 19, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana.  Indiana won 107-50.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I knew we were going to reach this point sometime this season. There was no way this team was going to go undefeated. That's why Indiana's (12-1) 80-65 loss in the Breslin Center to Michigan State (12-2) to open the Big Ten season wasn't such a shock.

So go ahead, all you Hoosier haters, talk about how this team hasn't played anyone and how soft Cody Zeller was. Go ahead and say they were a fluke as well.

Anyone that says that doesn't know basketball.

For 27 minutes of this contest, Indiana was the team to beat. The Hoosiers got off to a poor start and trailed 31-14 midway through the first half. It seemed like every Michigan State shot would fall and none would for Indiana. Then, reality hit.

Indiana went on a 25-2 run in the last seven minutes of the first half, and the first ten minutes of the second half, to take a 39-33 lead with just over ten minutes to go.

Michigan State couldn't get their offense going, and Indiana was executing like normal.

After the ten minute mark, Indiana decided to get soft for some reason and stop penetrating to the basket. They also stopped looking for Cody Zeller or Tom Pritchard in the post.

Michigan State went on a 20-0 run themselves and put the nail in the coffin.

Credit a bit of that to Michigan State, but put most of the blame on poor decisions by the Hoosiers. Indiana was so scared to dribble, drive or hit the post entry that they decided to do a three man weave at the top of the key until the shot clock was below 10 seconds. Only then would they try to do something with the ball.

That's horrible execution.

That led to costly turnovers and bad shots, and easy Michigan State baskets on the other end. You will never beat anyone playing like that.

Credit Michigan State a bit, but blame horrible play by Indiana.

The loss though is a good building point for coach Crean. This shows what not to do when you have the lead late in the second half of a Big Ten road game.

The Hoosiers let Spartans guard Keith Appling score a career high 25 points to lead the 16th ranked Spartans over the 13th ranked Hoosiers. Appling scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and also assisted on seven baskets.

Three other Spartans reached double figures with Derrick Nix adding 14 points, while Brandon Wood and Draymond Green added 13 apiece.

The Hoosiers were led by Christian Watford in scoring a game high 26 points and a team high 10 rebounds. It was Watford's third career double-double and second in the last two games. He also joined the 1,000 point club and now ranks 43rd on the all-time Hoosiers scoring list.

The only other two Hoosiers to reach double figures were Verdell Jones III with 11 points, and sophomore Victor Oladipo with 10.

Jones III looked all week like he wouldn't play this game with a hip injury suffered in the last game against UMBC, but he fought through it and gave 28 hard earned minutes. He definitely was the hardest working player tonight.

Matt Roth sparked the Hoosiers off the bench in hitting all six points on two three-point shots in the first half. He was the sole reason the Hoosiers went on the 25-2 run with those big threes.

A big reason the Hoosiers blew the lead was due to the absence of big man Cody Zeller and junior Jordan Hulls. Both players really didn't show up and only had eight points combined with four apiece.

Zeller is usually a rebounding machine, but he only added three rebounds to his four points. It was by far the worst game of his young career. You can credit a number of factors for this, but none more so than the Hoosiers inability to find him due to Zeller being soft and not dominating guys who are far less talented than he is.

Indiana has a short break to get this fixed as they host second ranked Ohio State Saturday at 6 P.M. on ESPN 2. It will be the Big Ten home opener and should be a Kentucky game atmosphere in Assembly Hall.