Another night against one of the Big Ten’s best teams, another loss for the Iowa Hawkeyes, this time at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans. A 35-31 halftime lead turned into a 82-67 win for Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, thanks to a 21-2 run in the second half that Iowa couldn’t surmount.
It should, because it’s basically how Iowa has lost all of its games this season. The Hawkeyes are…well…who I thought they were: a team destined to finish in the middle of the Big Ten.
After less-than-stellar performances last month against Michigan State, Luka Gara continued his torrid scoring steaks against the Spartans. He finished the night with 20 points and 3 rebounds, and even managed to finally get a shot home from deep. Tyler Cook joined him in leading the scoring with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp struggled again, scoring 3 points and 5 points, respectively. Nick Baer was the only other Hawkeye to score in double-digits with 10, and that’s really all you need to know about the Iowa performance offensively.
Let’s recap it all, shall we?
Iowa started things off with a strong defensive possession that ended with a shot clock violation. It was a similarly strong defensive performance from the Spartans on the first possession of the game, as Luka Garza missed his shot late in the shot clock. Tyler Cook was there for the putback and Iowa got out to the early lead.
Michigan State turned the ball over on four of its first five possessions, but were able to stay in the game thanks to Iowa’s inability to convert points off turnovers. Nick Ward finally got the scoring going for the Spartans after almost four scoreless minutes, and quickly MSU had a 5-4 lead.
That quickly turned into a 9-0 run for the Spartans that quieted the previously electric sold out crowd, until Joe Wieskamp picked off right where he left off against Illinois and hit a shot from deep. But the Hawkeyes fought back, drawing within one at 12-11, but couldn’t regain the lead, and it was 14-11 with a little over 11 minutes to go.
Both teams battled back-and-forth from there, with the Hawkeyes settling into their offensive possessions. Garza in particular began to heat up, and Tyler Cook brought the score to 23-22 thanks to a nice hook shot with just over 7 minutes remaining in the half. The Hawkeyes made a defensive stop on the ensuing possession, and Garza posted up to take back the lead with 6:40 left in the first half.
Michigan State pulled ahead again until Nick Baer got into the scoring column with a game tying three. Jordan Bohannon finally got into the scoring column with his first three of the game from deep that gave the Hawkeyes a 32-30 lead with 2:05 remaining. Michigan State promptly turned the ball over, and Bohannon responded with another three that put Iowa on a 9-0 scoring run, and the Hawkeyes ended the half with a 35-31 lead.
Cook got things started off in the post for the Hawkeyes in the second half with a smooth hook shot, and the Hawkeyes forced another turnover on defensive immediately afterwards. Garza’s ensuing drive to the basket made the score 39-31 and the crowd was on their feet, before the Hawkeyes gave up an open look beneath the basket for an easy Spartan basket. Wieskamp widened the lead on a nice drive through the lane and reverse layup, and Cook got an easy basket in the lane on the next Iowa possession. Iowa’s lead grew as large as 8, but Michigan State stormed back to 50-48 with 14:05 remaining in the game. Quickly, the tides had turned and Michigan State was able to stop Iowa defensively and convert on the other end, jumping out to a 53-50 lead. Ward widened the lead with an and-1 conversion but Luka Garza ended the Sparty run to make it 56-52 with 11:23 remaining. But MSU responded with a quick onslaught of points, and all of the sudden, the Spartans were up 53-52, thanks to a 21-2 scoring run.
The Hawkeyes could never come back from the deficit. They didn’t have time, they didn’t have the shooting power. They musth ave used it all up against Illinois on Sunday. It’s a shame too, because we saw some o the best defense I’e seen from this team in the first half. It’s a disappointing loss, but it doesn’t really change anything we’ve known about this Iowa team. They’re a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team that just can’t (or hasn’t yet) put it all together against one of the conference’s better programs. The Hawks have a few tough games in front of them: at Minnesota on Sunday, home against Michigan next Friday, and at Indiana the Thursday after that.
Not un-winnable games by any means, but certainly difficult. Which Iowa team will show up?
As for tonight’s game, the shots just weren’t there, but the NCAA tournament is still a very real possibility. But if this loss was surprising to you in any way, I don’t think you’ve watched much Iowa basketball the last two seasons.