For the fifth consecutive game, Michigan State's opponent posted an effective FG% very near to or above 60% (60.6%, to be exact). This time, the MSU defense--or lack thereof--clearly played a major role in getting to that number. Iowa only attempted 9 three-pointers. Instead, they converted 24 of 43 two-point attempts, as the MSU defenders consistently got caught flat-footed as Iowa players drove and cut to the hoop. Easy baskets off MSU turnovers didn't help, either.
Offensively, MSU couldn't buy a jumpshot (4-18 on threes, with all 4 makes coming late). The Iowa defense packed it in, preventing Kalin Lucas (5-16 from the field) from driving to the basket and making it very difficult to get the ball inside consistently. Derrick Nix was the lone bright spot, with 12 points and 5 rebounds. Unfortunately, you can't built an offense around a guy who can only play 20 minutes per game and shoots 50% from the free throw line. Nix is becoming a great supporting performer; tonight he had nothing to support.
Draymond Green got to the basket a few times but more often made poor decisions with the ball (5 TOs). Keith Appling looks like he's hit a wall: 0-5 from the field. Delvon Roe was barely there: 0-2 from the field, 3 rebounds. Ditto for Durrell Summers: 2-7, 3 TOs. Adreian Payne had a really great dunk. So there was that.
I don't think it's an exaggeration at all to say this is the worst loss of the Tom Izzo era--a blowout right out of the gate against a team with a 1-8 conference record, with the energy needed for a comeback never emerging for even a brief stretch. The odds of making the NCAA Tournament have now plunged well below 50%. Making the NIT could prove to be a struggle. I assume they still have the .500 record requirement. MSU needs 3 wins to get to that mark, and it's getting very hard to pick out likely wins on the remaining schedule.
I have no answers. I have no excuses. I have no hope. I can only hope Tom Izzo and the team aren't in the same place.
P.S. This is as frustrating a place as you can find yourself as a sports fan, but let's try to dial it back a bit in terms of going after individual players in the comments section. As Pete noted, we've praised all these guys--effusively in most cases--in the past. Everything sucks right now. Don't make it suck any more than it has to.