The Iowa Hawkeyes used tremendous first half shooting and a huge edge in all the hustle/energy/tougness categories (offensive rebounding, turnovers and second chance points) to push out to a 22 point halftime lead , one they never surrendered in a shocking victory at Breslin Center over Michigan State.
Not going to review all the keys or deal with this the usual way, since this was a smoking crater of a game. Instead, I have some overall thoughts below.
– Full credit to Iowa. The Hawks played well enough at both ends that even with a stronger effort from MSU, they might still have won the game. In the first half, they were flat out making shots from everywhere, including 60% from three against one of the best three point defensive teams in the nation. In the second half, their shooting touch wasn’t as accurate but it didn’t matter, as their effort level kept the Spartans at arms length. Iowa won every toughness/effort/focus category…they outrebounded MSU, they had 7 fewer turnovers and it seemed they got about 95% of the available loose balls. Tremendous game by them.
– Also credit to Fran McCaffrey for his game plan on the defensive end. While I don’t believe switching defenses should be something which severely limits an experienced and talented group like Michigan State, it’s tough to deny that’s exactly what happened tonight.
– From the MSU side, it’s pretty simple…when you play a good opponent and you don’t come close to matching their effort, you’re in trouble. When you do that AND you’re also not playing sharply, not moving the ball efficiently, and you’re not making shots, you get blown out.
That’s the story here. Iowa played well enough that they may have won regardless of what MSU did but make no mistake…MSU delivered about a D level game, and much of that was attributable to their being outworked for much of the night. Iowa was quicker to the ball all night…does anyone truly believe Iowa is a more athletic team than MSU? They’re not. That’s fact, not conjecture. When you’re locked in and playing with confidencce and toughness, it sure can look that way, though. MSU’s focus was bad, as exhibited by how confused they appeared to be on offense for much of the night. Iowa wasn’t throwing anything new at them and Iowa isn’t a particularly great defensive team either…they’re not Louisville or even Florida, teams MSU had far greater success against.
– I’m not one to quickly go after Tom Izzo about lineups and personnel decisions. He knows his players better than anyone and I can almost always see the reasoning behind decisions he makes, given what his values and standards are. However, I think there were some problems tonight. You can argue, and I’m guessing he will say some version of exactly this, that you have to get guys programmed now if you want to be where you need to be in March. So that’s why you sit Gav (or Marv, or DD) in favor of Colby. I get all of that, but that doesn’t make it any less hard to watch. I’m a big believer in the things Tum brings to the table, but you can’t have a lineup with him and with Colby and with Bess on the floor together for long stretches, as we saw toward the end of the first half when it went from bad to catastrophic. You just can’t do it, IMO.
– One saving grace, maybe the only silver lining on a terrible night of basketball…I thought DD played very well defensively when he was matched up with Uthoff. I know Uthoff hit one deep three on him but that was reasonably well contested…as Calhoun said, it was the kind of shot you see at the next level usually, not this one, where he sensed MSU being ready to go on a run and just put it on his own shoulders and hit a lean back three from about 22 feet through a decent contest. Other than that, I thought DD hung with him and that kid presents the biggest challenge at the 4 position in this conference right now, with all the things he can do. So that’s maybe something to build on.