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Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick: Michigan State 70, Iowa 63

I'm tempted to just repost this comment and be done with it:

Well, it's a win

6-0 in the Big Ten. Now let us never speak of this game again.

by SpartanDan on Jan 20, 2010 5:32 PM PST

But I'm contractually obligated to write something resembling a complete game recap. Let's start with the numbers:

Outside of the rebounding department, Iowa played MSU almost dead even. MSU's free throw rate advantage was negated by shooting only 64.7% from the line.

I'm not sure there's really much to learn from the four-factor numbers. Ultimately the underwhelming nature of the final scoreline came down to a lack of intensity from MSU. This embedded graph probably tells the story more clearly:

Under the circumstances, I can understand the Spartan players coming out somewhat lacking in zeal. They eventually found their rhythm and built a 12-point halftime lead.

The problem came in the final 8 minutes. As they have several times in recent weeks, MSU lost its focus after building a big lead. This time their opponent took advantage, as Iowa suddenly got hot from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes made 5 of their final 9 three-point attempts--a couple of them from Talor Battle range by Cully Payne and Eric May--after having hit only 2 of their first 16 shots from beyond the arc.

Three MSU players scored in double digits, but I have a grievance to air regarding each of them (official box score is here):

  • Raymar Morgan scored 16 points but shot just 2-6 from the free throw line, helping Iowa stay within striking distance late.
  • Durrell Summers scored 12 points but was somehow 0-4 from 3-point range, instead hitting a series of long 2-pointers with a foot on the line.
  • Kalin Lucas scored 11 points but took 11 FG attempts to get there, shooting just 1-5 from beyond the arc.

If there's a star in this game, I guess it would be Draymond Green: 9 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks 1 steal. Korie Lucious also played well, posting 7 points, 2 assists, and zero turnovers. He bounced back from a bad drive in the final seconds of the first half that led to a dunk by Iowa going the other way to score a basket late in the shot clock when Iowa had squeezed the lead down to 3 points with 2 minutes to go (one of only 4 unassisted MSU baskets in the game).

I'll stop there. I don't think this game is anything to get too worked up about; LVS pointed out to me that MSU only beat Iowa by 8 at home last year and things worked out OK. If anything, this gives Tom Izzo just the excuse he needs to keep a team that's 6-0 in conference play motivated.

Having said that, a performance like tonight's won't come close to getting the job done at Williams Arena on Saturday (noon, CBS).