BLOOMINGTON – Michigan State junior forward Aaron Henry had reason to be motivated entering Saturday’s matchup with Indiana.
Henry, a former Ben Davis standout, had been 0-5 in returns to his home state facing both Purdue and the Hoosiers. But that changed, as Henry put forth a dominant 27-point performance to lift the Spartans to a 78-71 comeback win over the Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“I haven’t won in Indiana before in college,” Henry said. “It’ll be a nice win for me to think about in the future, but I just wanted to get a win with my team.”
Henry took it upon himself to bring the Spartans back from an early 13-point hole. Indiana had no answers to guard the 6-foot-6, 212-pound Henry off the bounce. Henry got IU sophomore guard Armaan Franklin in foul trouble. Jerome Hunter, Rob Phinisee or Al Durham could not handle Henry as well, once Henry got a head of steam and attacked the basket.
“Aaron Henry is a tough matchup,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “They isolated him a lot in the post or they isolated him just on the perimeter, and we did not have a good matchup for him. He jumped over top of us, played bigger and we did not have a floor tight enough.”
Henry went 4-of-7 from the floor in the second half and 8-of-9 from the foul line.
“It was really Aaron Henry down the stretch,” said IU sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who himself scored a career-high 34 points. “He really took over the game for them and put them on his back. He was making tough shots after tough shots.”
Henry’s performance helped Michigan State snap a two-game losing streak and keep its slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
“We’re fed up with losing, fed up with being short, with not being prepared coming into games,” Henry said. “We started out that way today, and I didn’t want it to be like that, especially in front of my parents. My dad and my mom are here. I didn’t want to go out like that today.”
PHINISEE, DURHAM STRUGGLE
It was a tough afternoon for both IU starting guards Al Durham and Rob Phinisee. Durham had four points on 0-for-4 shooting from the floor and was 4-for-4 from the foul line. Phinisee, coming off a 10-point, six-assist game against Minnesota, wound up scoreless — going 0-of-6 from the floor with four assists and three turnovers.
After the game, Miller was asked about Durham and Phinisee’s inconsistency.
“They practice hard,” Miller said. “They have a great attitude. Guys are working. Both of them came off a really good game Wednesday night. Both played hard. Both played well.
“I think, from a perimeter shooting standpoint, it might be a confidence thing. Al had his opportunities on curls. He drove it today. Rob is struggling with his shot. He has been struggling with his shot. We have tried to get him away from that. He has been getting good looks.”
Indiana had its three-game win streak against Michigan State snapped, which dated back to the 2017-18 season. Miller is 4-3 all-time against the Spartans. … Indiana matched a season-high with 10 steals, which it also had Dec. 13 in an 87-52 win over North Alabama. Junior forward Race Thompson had seven steals.