Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has come up on the short end of the last three mentor-prot??g?? matchups with Indiana's Tom Crean, though Izzo seems to have the advantage this time around.
The fifth-ranked Spartans seek a sixth straight victory when they visit the Hoosiers on Saturday
Crean was an assistant under Izzo at Michigan State from 1995-99 before leaving to coach Marquette, and Izzo won the first six head-to-head meetings - five coming after Crean took the Indiana job in 2008-09.
The Hoosiers won both matchups last season by a combined nine points on their way to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but departures have left them young compared to the experienced Spartans.
Indiana (10-4, 0-1 Big Ten) is coming off an 83-80 overtime loss at Illinois on Tuesday after committing a season-worst 23 turnovers. Sophomore Yogi Ferrell scored a career-high 30 points, while freshman Noah Vonleh added 16 before fouling out.
The Hoosiers start two freshmen and two sophomores, and their bench lost depth when freshman Luke Fischer announced Monday he plans to transfer.
"We fought, we battled, and we just didn't get the result at the end," Crean said. "(Even) with the turnovers and things like that, we were still where we needed to be."
Michigan State (12-1, 1-0) has higher expectations than Indiana this season, as Adreian Payne and Keith Appling hope to avoid the distinction of being the only four-year players under Izzo to miss going to the Final Four.
Appling scored 14 points and Payne had 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 79-63 victory over Penn State. The Spartans, who have won five straight since a loss to North Carolina on Dec. 4, trailed by seven at halftime.
Branden Dawson scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Gary Harris finished with 13 points.
"Our halftime wasn't a lot of fun. You always hope that your players respond," Izzo said. "They didn't play well, but they responded. Thankfully, Dawson was keeping us afloat. In the second half I thought most of those guys played better."
Previous injuries led Izzo to use his seventh starting lineup in eight games. Regular starter Matt Costello came off the bench and played 12 minutes in his first action in five games because of mononucleosis.
"In all honesty, we weren't very good. I don't know why. We have practiced great," Izzo said. "I'm very happy with our practices."
Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring at 83.3 points per game, with Harris - an Indiana native whom Crean recruited heavily - leading the team with an average of 17.4. The sophomore scored a team-high 21 points in MSU's 75-70 loss in Bloomington on Jan. 27 before netting 19 in a 72-68 home defeat Feb. 19.
The Hoosiers are third in the conference in scoring at 82.0 points per game and Ferrell, averaging 17.7, is fourth in the Big Ten. Playing a much smaller role offensively as a freshman, Ferrell combined for 17 points in the matchups with Michigan State.
Ferrell's 4.1 assists per game are slightly behind Appling's average of 4.8 that ranks third in the conference. The Spartans are second in the nation with 19.2 assists per contest, a number helped by their conference-best 48.7 field-goal percentage.