Well, that went pretty smoothly, huh?
The first nine or ten minutes of the game were an even affair, with each team riding hot shooting to a somewhat surprising 22-22 tie with eleven minutes left to go in the 1st half. But how each team got to those 22 points would prove to be important. While MSU was able to find continued offensive success attacking the paint (14 of their first 22 points came on layups or post-ups, they shot almost 65% (!) on 2PA over the course of the game) Iowa's fast start (aided by starting 5-6 from 3P range) fell off as the game continued (just 5-14 from 3 the rest of the way). In the next ten minutes leading up to halftime, MSU continued to shoot incredibly well, while playing good enough defense to go on a 33-17 run, nearly doubling up the Hawkeyes over that span. This run essential put the game comfortably out of reach.
The teams more or less traded baskets in the second half, giving Izzo a comfortable lead with which to experiment in this Brave New Dawson-less World MSU finds itself in (early indicators point to Kearney and Byrd to pick up the slack). Iowa never got closer than 14 points, and trailed by as much as 28 as Michigan State cruised to the final 17 point margin. Fran McCaffery picked up a technical foul because FRAN BEIN' FRAN Y'ALL. Regrettably for all fans involved, he did not earn it by spiking a referee into the court.
Four Factors and player bullets after the jump...
As you might expect MSU crushed Iowa in both eFG% as well as offensive rebounding percentage, and had a slightly higher turnover percentage, while posting an identical free throw rate. Of course, not all teams will be as slight on the front line as Iowa, but MSU's 37% OR% has to be encouraging without Dawson in the lineup.
The game was a fairly fast 68 possessions, meaning MSU's defense (1.1 Points Per Possession) was not so bad, while their offense (1.35 PPP), though very, very, good, wasn't off the charts amazing.
-Draymond Green is still really good you guys. Another 20 point, 10 rebound, 5 assist night for him (his 6th this season, I believe) with the special note that, due to foul trouble and blowout etiquette, he picked those numbers up in only 24 minutes on the floor. Yup.
-Keith Appling might not get the praise he deserved for this game, but 12 points on 3 FGA is very tasty, as is a 3 to 1 A/TO ratio. If Appling can continue to play the point this well (And to be sure, Iowa bad defense caveats apply) we might not have to lower our tourney expectations so much after all.
-Travis Trice also probably won't get the love he deserves but he ALSO put in a good shift at PG, going 3-4 from deep, grabbing 2 rebounds, a steal, and adding three assists with zero turnovers. Please, please let him stay healthy.
-Derrick Payne, two-headed center beast, combined for 27 points (on 10-15 shooting) and 11 rebounds (4 offensive). Derrick Payne for 1st team All Big Ten center (There's nothing in the rulebook that says we can't artificially squash two player's production together into a composite player. What do you mean, "they already voted for that award."?).
-Brandon Wood played a typically efficient and versatile game, doing a little bit of everything for the Spartans. I'm cautiously expecting him to turn his game up another notch and continue to help take some of the weight off of Appling as far as production out of the MSU back court goes.
-Kearney and Byrd looked, well, adequate, in replacing Dawson's production with each grabbing an offensive rebound, each blocking a shot, and each scoring at least 1 FG (Byrd had eight points, including 3-3 from the free throw line.) Both had trouble with shot selection though, with Kearney seeming to love shooting 15 foot jumpers from the wing, and with Byrd air-balling about 1 three pointer for every 1 three pointer he made.
-On the Iowa side of things, they actually played a pretty good offensive game when not getting barbequed on the defensive end of the court, most notably Josh Oglesby, a freshman averaging a little over 6 points a game, went crazy from 3, hitting 5-7 attempts on his way to 20 points. Sophmores Zach McCabe and Roy Devyn-Marble also each scored in double digits. Iowa has some nice young players (Melsahn Basabe, a sophmore, and Aaron White, a freshman, have also played well this season though not especially tonight). They're definitely a team to watch in two years or so.
I don't know about anyone else, but this sure seemed to me like exactly what this team needed, coming off that tough OSU loss. Players we haven't necessarily seen a lot recently, looked good in their expanded minutes, but as we can all remember from last year, a dominant first round win can be followed up with a disjointed second round loss all too easily. Hopefully the team finds a way to build off this performance. Wisconsin looms tomorrow, and should provide a much tougher test to this team's goal of claiming it's the Big Ten's best. A win would go a long, long, way towards securing a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Game on.
Thoughts on the performances of Trice, Kearney, Byrd? Will Nix and Payne build off their strong inside production? Think Appling can get back in the groove at point guard? Can MSU *Dun, Dun Duhnnnnnn* beat the same team three times in one season? Let us know in the comments.