No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball (18-3, 9-2 Big Ten) will welcome Michigan State (17-5, 7-4 Big Ten) into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday. The Hoosiers are looking to bounce back from their turnover-filled 74-69 loss to No. 5 Ohio State on Feb. 4 while the Spartans hope to remain hot in conference play.
The Hoosiers collapsed in Columbus against the Buckeyes, turning a five-point halftime lead into a 14-point deficit in the second half. A season-high 23 turnovers — most of which stemmed from an aggressive Ohio State press — plagued the cream and crimson throughout the game. Indiana head coach Teri Moren hopes her team will learn from the miscues in preparation for Thursday’s matchup.
“All these [losses] have been really hard lessons,” Moren said during the postgame press conference. “But we’ve taken every lesson that we’ve learned, and we’ve become better because of it. We’ll be better, hopefully, come this week when we play Michigan State.”
Led by a pair of graduate student guards, Moira Joiner and Julia Ayrault, the Spartans hold the second-longest winning streak in the Big Ten. Michigan State has rattled off four straight wins, including a 76-65 win over Minnesota on Feb. 5. In that win, the Spartans made 12 of their 34 attempted 3-pointers.
Michigan State is no stranger to perimeter scoring, ranking seventh in the country with 9.4 3-pointers on average made per game. Joiner, the Spartans' leading scorer with 15.2 points on average per game, ranks third in the conference shooting 40.6% from long range. Indiana senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil will likely be tasked with slowing down the Spartan sharpshooter. Averaging 1.5 steals per game, Moore-McNeil is the Hoosiers’ best perimeter defender and gives them the best chance at limiting Joiner’s impact.
Indiana’s aspirations of a bounce-back win are largely helped by the location of the game. The Hoosiers have not lost a home game to Michigan State since Dec. 28, 2017. However, Indiana is 1-7 in its previous eight games in East Lansing, including last season's 83-78 loss. Additionally, the Hoosiers are the only team in the Big Ten to hold a spotless resume on their home court this season with all three of their losses occurring away from Assembly Hall.
Expect graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes to be heavily involved in the Hoosiers’ offensive attack. It’s difficult for any team to win games when its best scorer has an off-night and that’s no different for Indiana. The Hoosiers are 13-0 in games where Holmes scores 20-plus points, and 5-3 when she falls below that mark. She scored just 14 last time out against Ohio State.
“I had some shots that rolled in and out,” Holmes said Feb. 4. “Those are shots I usually make, and I expect myself to make, so that was disappointing.”
Indiana will be in action Thursday night against Michigan State in a matchup with heavy stakes in the Big Ten standings, as the two teams sit No. 3 and No. 4 in the conference, respectively. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be streaming on Peacock.