EAST LANSING, MICH. -- What happens when a team shoots 28 percent from the field?
Missed shots, yes, but why? What happens to an offense?
What makes an IU team shooting 49.8 percent on the season fall apart, shoot just 17-of-60 and score a season-low 50 points?
IU Coach Tom Crean thinks it’s a lack of effort.
“Our guys were excited to play, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Crean said. “We practiced well. But being excited to play is a lot different than being ready to compete and fight with a team like Michigan State.”
For much of IU’s blowout loss to Michigan State, its offense was stagnant. More often than not, one Hoosier dribbled while four watched at a standstill.
It happened early – Crean angrily called a timeout less than five minutes into the game after 23 seconds of dribbling in place – and often. That lack of ball movement forced IU into isolation basketball, often with the shot clock winding down.
One-on-one basketball led to bad shots, which led to missed shots - 28 percent.
“Offensively, I’m highly disappointed,” Crean said. “We didn’t cut with any urgency. Our cuts and screens were as soft as maybe I’ve ever coached at Indiana, maybe anywhere.”
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said his team played one of its best defensive games of the season against IU, and it showed. The Spartans are undersized, but make it up in athleticism and a commitment to team defense.
When IU moved the ball, Michigan State followed. Quick defensive rotations and smart help defense stopped almost all Hoosier penetration to the basket.
It was a defensive system that Crean first noticed while studying film before Monday night.
“I sent (Izzo) some texts when I was watching film, saying, ‘Wow, this defense is good,’” he said. “And they really are. They cover so much ground.”
The numbers back up Michigan State’s defensive prowess. The Spartans rank No. 21 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 14 in opponents’ effective field goal percentage, according to kenpom.com. They’ve held opponents to just over 60 points per game this season.
Those numbers are certain to improve after Monday’s performance. IU’s metrics will drop accordingly.
The Hoosiers’ 50 points and 28 percent shooting were their worst marks since scoring 47 points and shooting 25 percent against Northwestern in January.
That was last year’s team, a different set of problems. Shooting was almost nonexistent on that roster. This season, Crean’s squad is fully stocked with shooters, including nationally-recognized scorers Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon, Jr.
It just didn’t happen for IU on Monday night. The effort never materialized.
“We didn’t do anything,” Crean said.