Wow, that was fun.
And a little weird. Watching a game against a ranked opponent with close to no stress? What?!
Let’s kick this off with the big men, who were sensational. And who do you even begin with?
We’ll start with Nick Ward, who had arguably his best game as a Spartan in a historic outing. Not only did he have a career high of 26 points, but he was also a perfect 10/10 from the field. The last Spartan to shoot 10/10 from the field in a game? Alan Anderson back in 2005.
Just a few shots for Ward were chip shots thanks to Iowa over-committing on the press and leaving him wide open, but a good deal of his work was against solid defense. Needless to say, an impressive night for the big fella.
And speaking of impressive, who had Kenny Goins being the first player to flirt with a triple-double this season? Goins had 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists and looked smooth doing it. You can tell he’s a seasoned veteran out there – rarely making a wrong play and playing with a calmness to him.
Xavier Tillman also shined on the block, throwing up a career-high 14 points and pulling down eight rebounds as well.
All three of those guys helped make life miserable for Iowa inside the paint, namely their center Luka Garza. The poor guy was held without a field goal until a garbage time 3-pointer with the minutes winding down.
And we’re not done praising big men yet – shout out to Braden Burke! The transfer scored his first points as a Spartan off a rebound late in the game.
The rest of the cast was solid too. Joshua Langford had 14 points, including 2-4 shooting from behind the arc. Cassius Winston had 12 assists and just one turnover with his eight points. Aaron Henry looked good in his 20 minutes of action, including a throw down dunk to put an exclamation point on the first half.
The defense was also something else from MSU, holding a team that averaged well above 80 points to just 68 points. Iowa got off to a hot start (as most teams do against MSU) with 5/8 shooting. After that start, they had a 5/18 shooting stretch toward the end of the half. And then to start the second half? A brutal 1/19 from the field in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Matt McQuaid was out again, but he did warm up with the team before the game. To go 2-1 in his absence is decent – that Louisville game was winnable without him. However, all we do now is hope he’s OK for Saturday’s game against Florida.
It’s barely December, but this team is 2-0 in conference play and life is pretty good for our Spartans. Go Green!