Harris helps No. 5 Michigan St. whip Indiana
January 4, 2014 (AP) – Michigan State guard Garry Harris shouldn’t be on the court for more than 30 minutes a game right now, according to Spartans coach Tom Izzo.
The sophomore is still trying to find his way back from an ankle injury that’s kept him out of the lineup three times this season and Izzo said he isn’t fit or on top of his game.
“I swear he’s not what he’s going to be,” Izzo said.
Tell that to Indiana.
Harris scored 26 points, including 17 in the first half, to lead No. 5 Michigan State to a 73-56 victory over the Hoosiers on Saturday.
Harris played 37 minutes for the Spartans (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten), spending most of them picking apart Indiana (10-5, 0-2).
“Once we see some shots go down early, it can be a long day for the other team,” Harris said, conceding that Izzo may be right about his fitness. “I was dead tired at the end of the game.”
Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, who said his team fell to a potential national champion, called Harris lethal and efficient.
“Gary was an assassin today,” Crean said.
The win ended a run of three straight Indiana wins over the Spartans.
Michigan State turned 13 Indiana turnovers into 20 points — with Harris the finisher on several of the plays — capitalizing on a problem that has plagued the Hoosiers all season. They are averaging 16.4 turnovers a game, more than any other team in the conference.
Branden Dawson added 13 points for the Spartans.
Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 17 points while Will Sheehey added 13.
After falling behind by as many as 15 points early in the second half the Hoosiers made a run, using freshman guard Stanford Robinson to clamp down on Harris and finding points from someone other than Ferrell.
“I wish we would have got him on Harris in the first half,” Crean said of Robinson.
Sheehey buried a 3-pointer with 8:54 left in the game to close the gap to 50-41, turning and sprinting back down court as the shot went through and the crowd erupted.
But at the other end of the court, Indiana couldn’t come up with a rebound off a series of Spartan misses, finally watching Harris come back to life for what would become a 5-point play.
Harris hit a 3-pointer and drew a foul from Robinson. And as Harris pumped his first in front of the celebrating Spartans bench, Robinson was hit with a technical foul.
Harris made two of the three free throws and the Spartans were up 55-41.
Without Ferrell’s 10 first-half points, the Hoosiers might have been all but out of the game by halftime.
Michigan State turned Indiana’s eight turnovers into 13 first-half points and a 33-24 lead.
The Hoosiers had no answer for Harris, not even Ferrell.
Harris had 17 points by the half, including a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left that he hit over Ferrell, who fell as he scrambled to get to him and was sprawled on the court at his feet.
Indiana went up 9-5 in the opening 4 minutes on a 3-pointer by Ferrell.
But the Spartans shut down the Hoosiers’ momentum in a hurry, going on a 10-0 run that was capped by a layup and free throw from Harris with 11:35 left.
Harris entered the game averaging a team-high 17.4 points a game. But he still hasn’t been the player he or Izzo expected this season. So he spent part of the morning, he and Izzo said, watching video of his play from last season and said it helped.
Now Izzo, who said he apologized to Harris for leaving him on the court too long, hopes he can build on this game.
“You’ve got to have guys who make plays,” Izzo said. “I think Gary Harris is going to be that guy for us this year.”
Michigan State is 7-0 on the road this season but plays its next two games, against No. 3 Ohio State on Tuesday and Minnesota on Jan. 11, at home.
The Hoosiers will try for their first Big Ten win at Penn State on Jan. 11.