Vaden says he'll likely leave Indiana, follow Davis

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Mike Davis might not be the only one leaving Indiana at the end of the season.

Robert Vaden, who scored 21 points to lead the Hoosiers' 78-71 win over Michigan State (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP), said the Indiana coach's final game in Assembly Hall on Sunday was probably his last game at home, too.

"I'm almost positive I won't be back," the sophomore guard said. "My coach is leaving. That's not the only reason I came here, but it was a very big reason why I came here, and I don't think it would be best for me to stay. I think it would be best for me to weigh my options elsewhere."

Davis, under increasing criticism all season, resigned just over a week ago amid a five-game losing streak that knocked Indiana out of the Top 25.

"Hopefully he can get a job, and if he goes somewhere that's good enough for me, I'll be there with him.," Vaden said. "I'm trying not to think about all these things right now. We've got a season we're still playing in and we're trying to make it to the [NCAA] Tournament. That's all I'm worried about."

Indiana (15-10, 7-7 Big Ten) will finish the regular season at Purdue and Michigan before the start of the conference tournament March 9 in Indianapolis. Michigan State (19-9, 7-7), which beat Indiana by 14 points in East Lansing last month, closes the regular season at home against Wisconsin and Illinois.

Davis, who received a long ovation before the game and spoke to the crowd during Indiana's senior day program afterward, said he was a "little emotional" about his farewell at home.

"But at the same time, I'm just really, really excited. I've grown so much in the last six years," he said.

The Spartans, led by Maurice Ager's 30 points, rallied from 16 points down early in the second half and took their first lead on a 3-pointer by Ager with seven minutes to go. There were three ties
after that before a basket and free throw by Marshall Strickland put Indiana ahead for good.

Vaden hit his fifth 3-pointer with under two minutes to go before a pair of free throws by Shannon Brown pulled Michigan State within 75-71. The Spartans had a chance to score again, but Errek Suhr stole the ball, missed a layup, got his own rebound and was

He hit both free throws, and then Strickland made 1-of-2 foul shots to finish the scoring.

Davis said the Hoosiers have appeared more relaxed since he announced his resignation.

"We played the way we played early in the season. Our attitude is getting back to where we need to be," Davis said. "It's so important we play our style of basketball. I've definitely been a better basketball coach over the last couple of games."

Indiana hit seven of its first eight shots and took an eight-point lead within the first four minutes. The Spartans, en route to their fourth loss in the past five games, pulled within 21-20 in the next seven minutes, but a rebound basket and two straight 3-pointers by Strickland started a 10-0 Indiana run.

"We felt like we were back as a team like we were at the beginning of the year," Vaden said. "We made the extra pass, we got a lot more physical, we played team defense, got some great stops, made some big shots."

The Hoosiers continued pulling away, and a 3-pointer by Vaden and a dunk by Marco Killingsworth off a rifle pass from Strickland gave Indiana its biggest lead of the half at 41-26.

Michigan State came within 10 points with a minute to go, but a rebound basket by Roderick Wilmont pushed the lead to 43-31 at the break.

"I'm more disappointed how we played in the first half. It kind of set the tone for the game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "In the second half, we probably outplayed them in every facet of the game. ... We just didn't execute in the last three minutes."

Two 3-pointers by Vaden gave Indiana its biggest lead of the game at 49-33 two minutes into the second half before Michigan State slowly worked its way back.

A 3-pointer by Ager, a basket by Paul Davis after an Indiana error and another basket by Ager tied the game for the first time at 57, and neither team led by more than two points until the Hoosiers pulled away in the final minutes.

Killingsworth finished with 18 points and Strickland added 16 for the Hoosiers. Brown added 18 for Michigan State.

"I don't think we're playing as well as we can play. I don't think it's a lack of effort," Izzo said. "We just made some foolish turnovers. And when you take a bad shot it's like a turnover.

"This is still a very good Indiana team," he continued. "A lot of people don't want to hear that, but they did a very good job today. I still hope they'll get in the NCAA Tournament."