EAST LANSING (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Michigan State is a different team with and without Adreian Payne, no doubt, but also a different one with and without suitcases.
After two convincing wins from the Road Spartans last week, the Home Spartans returned to action Tuesday night, and the result was another uncomfortably close game against a supposedly overmatched opponent - and it might have been really uncomfortable if Gary Harris didn't finally see red.
Indiana, playing without senior guard Will Sheehey (ankle), led by five midway through the second half at Breslin Center. Harris took over from there and scored 20 of his game-high 24 points after the break in a 71-66 MSU survival to continue to the best start in school history.
The No. 3 Spartans (18-1, 7-0 Big Ten) played without Payne (sprained right foot) for a fourth straight game, and Indiana freshman big man Noah Vonleh was a different player than he was in MSU's 73-56 rout at IU on Jan. 4.
He had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell scored 19 to keep the Hoosiers (12-7, 2-4) in the game until the end.
But Harris continued his mastery of the home-state team that battled MSU for his services - he is now averaging 22.5 points in four career games against the Hoosiers, and he has 50 points in two games against them this season.
MSU also got a lift off the bench from Travis Trice, whose 10 points included two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to help ice the game. Denzel Valentine had 10 points and seven rebounds, hitting two free throws to end it with 4.4 ticks left.
Branden Dawson had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Keith Appling had eight points and six assists - hurting his lower back and re-aggravating his right wrist on separate spills.
Other than an eight-second explosion of action in which Ferrell and Appling traded coast-to-coast layups, the first half was all fouls and turnovers and general ugliness. The Hoosiers led 28-27 after 20 minutes despite five assists and nine turnovers, and thanks to a 10-for-13 showing from the foul line.
MSU, meanwhile, had to sit Appling, Harris, Matt Costello and Alex Gauna early with two fouls each. Trice got his second late in the half to make it five Spartans in foul trouble at the break.
Harris got going early in the second half, but MSU could not gain separation. And then the Hoosiers started to gain some of their own - thanks to five MSU turnovers in six possessions, feeding a 10-2 IU run to go ahead 46-41.
Tom Izzo called timeout. His team responded - going on an 11-2 run in the next 2:32 to go up 52-48. Harris scored the first five points of the stretch and Denzel Valentine finished it with a fast-break layup, plus the foul and free throw.
The run stretched to 22-6 and the lead to 10, but Ferrell had five straight points to cut it to 62-57. That's when Appling found Harris for a corner three with 2:12 left, and MSU did enough at the foul line late to hold on.