EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State’s mastery of Iowa continued Thursday at the Breslin Center.
The 22nd-ranked Spartans started the second half on a 9-0 run to reverse momentum, resorted to a more determined and physical style of play on defense, and beat No. 24 Iowa for the 18th consecutive time at home, 86-76.
It was that physical style of play that had Iowa Fran McCaffery bristling afterward. McCaffery left a clear impression, without saying it, that the hand checking that had been a point of emphasis earlier in the season has become an afterthought. At least in the second half.
“I don’t know,” McCaffery said. “Your answer is as good as mine. I give up. I surrender.”
Spartans coach Tom Izzo improved to 16-0 against Iowa at the Breslin Center. It also was Michigan State’s eighth consecutive victory over the Hawkeyes overall, tying the longest streak in the series.
“It was a physical game,” Izzo said. “I said our team was not tough enough. (Thursday), I thought both team played awfully hard.”
Iowa, losing for the fourth time in five games, fell to 20-10 overall and 9-8 in the Big Ten Conference heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale against Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Spartans, who had lost five of eight games coming into play Thursday, improved to 23-7 overall and 12-5 in the Big Ten.
Devyn Marble led Iowa with 24 points, 16 coming in the first half. Marble has now scored 20 points or more in five consecutive games.
“That kid, (wow), he was really good in the first half,” Izzo said.
But Marble’s game didn’t keep Iowa from suffering its most one-sided loss of the season. The Hawkeyes’ worst defeat had been by seven points.
Asked if the game was more physical in the second half, Marble said, “Of course, of course. But you’ve got to be able to fight through that.”
Travis Trice led Michigan State with 17 points. Adreian Payne added 14, Denzel Valentine 13 and Gary Harris and Keith Appling 12 each. Appling, who has struggled with a wrist injury and hadn’t made a 3-pointer since Jan. 28, had two of them Thursday.
The Spartans, who had made just 6-of-18 3-point attempts in their most recent game, a home loss to Illinois, made 10-of-17 Thursday. Michigan State’s 47-point second half was a point more than it had scored the entire game March 1 against the Illini.
“When you look at their box scores, when they make 3s they win,” McCaffery said. “When the miss them, they lose.”
Things got not only physical but emotional in the second half. Izzo was highly animated when his team was called for five fouls in the first 2:21 of the second half, once wheeling around and punching the scorer’s table.
“My opinion, there were just some touchy fouls,” Izzo said.
When McCaffery argued a second-half call, official Bo Boroski nailed him with a technical foul.
“Apparently, I’m the bad guy all the time,” McCaffery said.
Then, after Iowa’s Zach McCabe got locked up with Michigan State’s Travis Trice, a double foul was called. McCabe also was assessed a technical foul. The Spartans’ Russell Byrd was ejected for leaving the bench during the skirmish.
Iowa used a late 14-4 run to take a 41-39 halftime lead, and Marble put on a show. The senior guard, playing his final college game in his home state of Michigan, made 7-of-10 shots from the field.
The Spartans wrestled away the momentum at the start of the second half, turning up its defensive pressure and scoring the first nine points to take a 48-41 lead. Iowa never regained the lead.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball