Men's basketball earns Izzo's 300th win
There seemed to be some extra emotion at Breslin Center Saturday afternoon.
Maybe it was the chance at revenge. Maybe it was because a win meant head coach Tom Izzo’s 300th victory.
Or maybe even a combination of both.
But whatever it was, it helped the men’s basketball team – as the Spartans rolled past the Hawkeyes 66-52 led by sophomore forward Raymar Morgan and his 16 points.
“We accomplished most of the things we wanted to accomplish,” Izzo said. “This was one of those games – it was an important game. The (Jan. 12) loss down there hurt us in a lot of ways.”
Izzo said everything his team set out to do was done – a high energy, a good shot selection, sharing of the ball and rebounding.
With a 13-point lead entering the second half, No. 19 MSU (22-5 overall, 10-4 Big Ten) upped their lead to 18 before the two squads began trading baskets up and down the floor.
Iowa’s (12-16, 5-10) Cyrus Tate paced his team with a game-high 26 points and nine rebounds. But the Hawkeyes’ inability to score back-to-back field goals more than one time in the second half never gave them much of a chance to get back in the game.
“I thought we got some decent looks early that didn’t go – but we only got one, they made sure of that,” Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter said. “We just had way too many miscues.”
The Hawkeyes coughed up the ball 16 times while MSU finished the contest with a season-low five turnovers.
“We just wanted to come out and prove our point and show people that we still have chances to do a lot of different things,” Morgan said. “This is just a stepping stone for us – we’re simply trying to win games. That’s the most important thing.”
And although the Spartans shot just 39.1 percent from the floor, they banged in 12-of-13 free throws and managed to out-rebound (33-30) and out-assist (16-11) their opponent.
“We’re doing everything we can do to get better,” senior guard Drew Neitzel said. “It starts with the turnovers. We’re shooting better (from the line). Those were two big areas we had to improve on and we did that tonight.”
MSU dominated the first 10 minutes of the game both offensively and defensively – not allowing a field goal until the 9:38 mark, making the score 20-3.
Lickliter even admitted after the game that he was frightened that his team wasn’t going to hit double digits before heading into the locker room.
Neitzel tallied nine of those 20, including a four-point play after being hacked on a 3-pointer that he buried.
The Hawkeyes’ shooting woes began to vanish as they clawed their way back into the contest with 15 more first-half points – yet trailed 31-18 at the break.
Tate was Iowa’s stand-out performer in the first 20 minutes, scoring eight points and pulling down five rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
The Spartans continue play at 9 p.m. Thursday against Wisconsin in Madison.