EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Aaron Henry had 18 of his 22 points in the second half, leading Michigan State to a 64-58 win over Indiana on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams on the bubble to play in the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans (14-10, 8-10 Big Ten) broke a ninth-place tie in the highly touted conference with the Hoosiers (12-13, 7-11) in a possibly pivotal game for their postseason hopes.
Michigan State’s Joshua Langford scored 13 points and Gabe Brown added 10 points for a team that has won four of its last five games.
Rob Phinisee scored 16 points and was Indiana’s only player in double figures.
Trayce Jackson-Davis was held to a season-low nine points and matched a career low by making only one shot on five attempts. The sophomore forward scored a career-high 34 points in the last game against Michigan State and averages nearly 20 points a game.
Indiana has lost four in a row and five of its last six games. The late-season slide has hurt the Hoosiers chances of going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 when former coach Tom Crean helped them earn a bid for a fourth time in five seasons.
Michigan State greatly improved its chances of playing beyond the Big Ten Tournament by beating then-No. 5 Illinois and then-No. 4 Ohio State last week at home. Those desperately needed quality wins followed a victory against the Hoosiers on the road.
Henry matched a career high with 27 points in the previous meeting, leading Michigan State to a 78-71 comeback win at Indiana less than two weeks ago. That victory was a third Quadrant 1 win this season for a team hoping to close a shaky season strong enough to play in a 23rd straight NCAA Tournament.
Henry did not pick up where he left off against the Hoosiers, starting 0 of 5 and scoring just four points in the first half.
In the end, though, he made plays at both ends of the court to help Michigan State outlast Indiana.
Indiana: Embattled coach Archie Miller has been unable to stop a slump that has given the team a losing record in his fourth season in charge of the once-proud program.
Michigan State: It was not pretty, but the Spartans did enough to win a game that boosts their chances of extending their NCAA Tournament streak in a shaky season that included a COVID-19 outbreak.
UGLY BEYOND THE ARC
Michigan State was 4 of 17 on 3-pointers and Indiana connected on just 2 of 20 shots beyond the arc.
Indiana: Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin missed a second straight game after injuring his right foot in the first half against Rutgers.
Michigan State: Junior guard Foster Loyer had shoulder surgery on Monday, likely ending his season.
Indiana ends the regular season on the road against rival and 23rd-ranked Purdue on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State closes the regular season against rival and second- ranked Michigan on the road Thursday night and hosts the Wolverines on Sunday.