Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
When: 2:00pm EST, Feb. 13, 2021
TV/Radio: Fox Sports/Spartan Sports Network radio
Iowa (14-6, 8-5): No. 5 (Kenpom)
1 - Jordan Bohannon (6’1” sr), Joe Toussaint (6’0” so)
2 - CJ Fredrick (6’3” so), Tony Perkins (6’4” fr)
3 - Connor McCaffery (6’5” jr), Patrick McCaffery (6’9” fr)
4 - Joe Wieskamp (6’6” jr), Keegan Murray (6’8” fr)
5 - Luka Garza (6’11” sr), Jack Nunge (6’11” so)
Scout and reflection on the first match-up:
Iowa is still superb. After dropping a couple of nip-and-tuck games against Ohio State and Indiana, the Hawkeyes got back to their winning ways against a Rutgers team that simply does not and cannot match-up against Iowa. Rutgers’ inability to really attack Iowa’s zones with passing or to hit three-pointers was the story of the game, so do not be fooled by Rutgers’ low scoring out-put into thinking that Iowa has, all of a sudden, become a defensive juggernaut.
This team still relies on outscoring opponents, on Garza, Wieskamp, and three-point shooting.
In the first match-up, the Spartans (Aaron Henry) really did a great job against Wieskamp, and kept Iowa from killing them with three-pointers, but failed to force Garza into an inefficient night and got surprised by Murray, Nunge, Toussaint, and Perkins, who the team appeared unprepared to compete against — Malik Hall, in particular, had his worst outing of the season largely against this group.
But the loss at Iowa probably can be attributed most to the Spartans’ inability to handle Luka Garza. Marcus Bingham Jr. struggled with foul-trouble (including two absolutely heinous foul calls that may, on their own, have made the difference between winning and losing), and none of the other bigs were able to bother Garza much at all. In the games since, Bingham has really come into his own and has found a level of consistency, heady defensive play-making, and force on the glass that should make Spartan fans much more hopeful than previously possible.
After jumping out to an early hot-shooting lead, (26-19 through 10 minutes), the Spartans offense faltered allowing the Hawkeyes to take the lead before the half. During this stretch, with Bingham n a bit of foul trouble and needing a rest, Kithier, Marble, and Hall manned the front-court spots; it did not go well. The team gave up dribble penetration to Toussaint, offensive rebounds and and-one scores to Nunge, and a turn-over-for-a-touchdown, allowing Iowa to whittle away the deficit to two points. When Iowa brought back Garza to pair with Nunge, Tom Izzo’s men had no answer.
While a number of curious foul calls and free throws helped spur the Iowa turnaround, a couple of tweaks seem like areas for focus:
- Toussaint is a driver and mid-range guy, do not guard him with Foster Loyer (starting Loyer should get him matched with Frederick or Bohannon, which are better assignments for Foster).
- One of Kithier, Marble, Hauser, or Sissoko HAVE to play well against Nunge. Keep him off the glass, and get in his airspace when he is at the three-point arc.
- Hall and Bingham Jr. simply have to play well against Perkins and Murray, and Garza, respectively. If the officials allow a bit of contact on both ends of the court (only Iowa was permitted to play physically defensively in the first contest), then Bingham should be able to play closer to 20 minutes — he has to be disciplined; no reaching, no wild swing-downs on blocks, just good contests, use verticality to challenge Garza’s shots, and be wily.
- Gabe Brown has to impact the game. He was a complete no-show against Penn State in a contest that was begging for him to play well, and his length and shooting should ostensibly have a major impact against the Hawkeyes. If he can take pressure off of Henry and Langford as the primary shot-takers, then the offense should open up.
- Hauser has to play with the force and confidence that he showed off the bench against Penn State. He got back to playing with pace and aggression, and he has to bring that same energy against Iowa.
- Win the transition battle. Michigan State got to run early against Iowa, but as the game wore on, the Spartans conceded far too many transition points of their own and failed to secure the defensive glass sufficiently down the stretch. Own the glass on both ends, get out and run, and get back in transition. It’s all about effort, toughness, and want-to.
The Spartans are winning this one. They have to. Bingham has the best performance of his career (even if he fouls out and doesn’t light up the box-score). Henry turns in another 20-plus-points scoring performance, and the Spartans get major contributions from Hall, Hauser, Langford, and Brown. A Josh Langford three-pointer seals it.
MSU 83 Iowa 80