On Tuesday night, the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans (18-1, 7-0 Big Ten) seemed to prove something that has become somewhat of a theme in the last few weeks: MSU looks much more comfortable on the road for some reason.
Despite their 71-66 win over the Indiana Hoosiers (12-7, 2-4) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan State looked like a team under duress. Sure, the Spartans were once again with star player Adreian Payne (ankle) for a fourth straight game, but Indiana, which has a much poorer record and nothing to boast about at the moment, unlike the Spartans, was playing without top senior guard Will Sheehey (ankle). Considering that, the Hoosiers should have been a "slam dunk" to take care of at home.
What it turned out to be was anything but that.
In fact, had sophomore guard Gary Harris not saved the day once again in the final moments by helping MSU to pull away in a much too close game, we'd be talking about the Spartans' first loss in ten games, instead of their eleventh consecutive win.
Harris scored 20 of his game-high 24 points after the half and saved the team from certain doom once again. Harris is now averaging 22.5 points per game and has scored 50 in the last two match ups. Many are beginning to wonder how long Harris can hold out while waiting for Payne to return. After all, it's not likely that Harris can carry the team on his back for the rest of the season.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo knows that a lot is being asked of his young star, but knows that he wouldn't ask such things of many people in the first place.
"He's just got to take over games," Izzo said. "He is that good, to be very blunt and honest about it. What an incredible performance by him with just 13 shots. He's probably the most efficient player in college basketball."
Regardless of how sloppy the games in the past have looked, or how badly injuries have plagued his teammates, MSU player Travis Trice says that what is now down on paper is all that matters in the end.
"We're 18-1 now," Travis Trice said. "That's all we care about. "
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.