BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - You might say it's been a good week for Michigan State athletics.
And you might say Gary Harris enjoys playing against his home-state Indiana Hoosiers.
The sophomore shooting guard set a new career high with 26 points as No. 5 MSU handled IU, 73-56, today at Assembly Hall to improve to 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten.
Add that to a comeback win at Penn State on Tuesday, followed by the MSU football Rose Bowl win over Stanford on Wednesday, and things are rolling in East Lansing.
MSU coach Tom Izzo broke a three-game losing streak to former assistant Tom Crean in a game that Spartans controlled for most of the way. Keith Appling scored all 14 of his points in the second half after foul trouble limited his first half, and Branden Dawson had 13 points and six rebounds.
Adreian Payne also had foul issues and matched his season low with four points. It didn't matter, not with Harris going 5-for-10 from three-point range against the team that battled MSU to the end for his services.
Just as in last year's MSU visit to IU, Hoosiers fans booed Harris, of Fishers, Ind., loudly. He scored 21 in that game and is now averaging 22.0 points in three career meetings against Indiana.
Yogi Ferrell scored 17 for the Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2) and Will Sheehey scored 13, but IU didn't have enough elsewhere and hurt itself with 15 turnovers.
It was clear Izzo didn't want Appling to suffer the same foul fate as a year ago, when Ferrell got him into early foul trouble, so he kept him from guarding Ferrell in the first half.
No matter. Sheehey got Appling's first foul on a drive, then Evan Gordon went at him for foul No. 2 with 12:04 left.
That was it for Appling for the first half, very similar to his issues last year at Indiana - fouling out in just 19 minutes with no assists and four turnovers in a 75-70 IU win.
But MSU got 17 from Harris and 11 from Dawson in the first half, finishing it on an 8-0 run to lead 33-24 at the break. The run extended to 15-1 after a Dawson fast-break bank shot that prompted Crean to call time-out, down 40-25 with 17:30 left in the game.
That led to a quick surge to cut the lead to eight. MSU extended it 14, Indiana cut it back to 50-41 on a Sheehey three-pointer. And that's when MSU crushed IU's spirit with the possession of the game.
Denzel Valentine missed a dunk and got his own rebound. He flipped to Harris, who missed, but Dawson got the rebound. He missed and it went out of bounds off Indiana.
Then Harris got a corner look and nailed it, plus the foul on Stan Robinson - plus a technical foul on Robinson.
Harris made two of the resulting three foul shots for a five-point trip and 55-41 lead, giving him a new career high of 26. IU would not seriously threaten again.