Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers looking for sweep

There is no question men's basketball interim head coach Mike Davis has his heart set on postseason play, and time is running out to get there. There are four games left in the regular season, and if Davis wants to reach 19 wins, the Hoosiers must win three of them. But with No. 5 Michigan State, Wisconsin and intra-state rival Purdue left on the schedule, Davis said the Hoosiers are entering the toughest part of the season.\nThe Spartans are first on the list.\nThe Hoosiers (16-10, 7-5 Big Ten) will face Michigan State (20-3, 9-3) at 7 p.m. in the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. Although IU has managed to knock off the Spartans the last two times the teams met, both wins were in Assembly Hall. Davis said it will be a different challenge facing the Spartans on their home court; MSU has the longest home win-streak in the nation with 42 games.\n"Playing Illinois really prepares us for Michigan State, but it will be a tough game because Michigan State is really, really good at home," Davis said. "We seem to play well when we play them. Hopefully, we can continue that. They're playing well, and they're playing for the Big Ten Championship."\nThe Hoosiers enter the game after a loss to No. 3 Illinois, which is keeping Michigan State out of first place in the Big Ten. Saturday's loss to the Illini dropped IU to fourth place in a tie with Wisconsin.\nIU is 2-4 on the road in the conference. Back-to-back wins against Ohio State Jan. 31 and Penn State Feb. 3 marked the first time since the 1995-96 season that IU won back-to-back road games in the Big Ten.\n"We know we can play on the road," Davis said. "We won the last two road games, but it wasn't against Michigan State. They're going to make runs because they're at home, but it's the last four games of the season. We should be over any road worries."\nThe venue is the least of Davis' concerns. Like Illinois, which defeated the Hoosiers 67-61 Saturday, MSU has depth -- even without the "Flintstones," Morris Peterson and Mateen Cleaves, graduates from Flint, Mich., who led the team to last year's national championship.\nFor the second time this season, Michigan State sophomore guard/forward Jason Richardson was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday. He shared the honors with Illinois' sophomore guard Frank Williams. Richardson, one of 15 finalists for the Naismith Award, leads the Spartans in scoring with an average of 15.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He is followed by senior guard Charlie Bell, also a native of Flint, who averages 14.9 points per game. Senior forward Andre Hutson averages 12.9 points per game.\n"We're not as good a defensive team as we were last year," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Last year, we could put a chokehold on people. We're not at that point yet, but we're making some progress. Offensively, at times, I think we're a better team than last year. We have better inside scorers in (freshman Zach) Randolph and Hutson." \nThe Hoosiers lack strong perimeter shooting, as evidenced by the Illinois loss, but IU wins with a dominant inside game and confident post players. IU boasts the Big Ten's leading scorer in junior center Kirk Haston, who topped Penn State's senior guard Joe Crispin with an average of 20.7 points per game. Izzo said he recruited Haston and called him the most improved player in the Big Ten this season.\n"The guy has done an incredible job. From the beginning of this year to the Big Ten season, his game has changed dramatically," Izzo said. "He's one of the guys you'll pull for. He's a great kid."\nHe's also the reason MSU's 23-game winning streak ended Jan. 7.\nHaston nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Hoosiers a 59-58 victory. The Spartans started the winning streak after an 81-79 overtime loss Feb. 26, 2000 at Assembly Hall. \n"It was a heck of a game," Izzo said, referring to Jan. 7. "We had a 10-point lead and they came back roaring. They hit a heck of a shot to beat us. I thought we (played defense), we just didn't make the plays"

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