PREVIEW: MSU takes on Iowa Hawkeyes in a crucial matchup
In the wake of an embarrassing 29-point defeat to rival University of Michigan, MSU men’s basketball (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten) faces a team that is trending upward in the University of Iowa (14-11, 6-6 Big Ten).
After winning three straight, the Hawkeyes took the Minnesota Golden Gophers into double overtime, eventually falling, 101-89. MSU head coach Tom Izzo said Iowa was an interesting team, one that started the season slow but is rapidly gaining momentum.
The golden boy for the Hawkeyes is no surprise with the shooting ability of senior guard Peter Jok.
“They have arguably, maybe the best player in the league,” Izzo said. “Jok was hurt before he was out and he scored 10 points in one game, 12 in another and last night he was back to the old Jok.”
Jok leads the Big Ten in scoring with 20.9 points per game and is shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from deep. Jok has scored in double-digits in all but one game played this season. His high is 42 points against Memphis and his low is four points against Northwestern.
MSU’s chess move to matchup with Jok could be a combination of junior guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. and freshman guard Joshua Langford. Against U-M, the Spartans allowed back cuts for easy layups, 30 points off of turnovers and open 3-point looks. The Wolverines finished the first half shooting nearly 75 percent and ended the game shooting more than 60 percent.
“We just prepare like we do for everybody else,” Langford said. “I feel like our coaches and everybody else on the coaching staff prepare us.”
Freshman forward Miles Bridges continues to be the main force for MSU. His 16.2 points per game leads the team all as part of his ability to score efficiently. Bridges shoots 50 percent from the field and more than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
He leads the team in rebounding at 8.1 rebounds per game. His largest areas of concern have been on the defensive end and his 2.9 turnovers per game. Against U-M, Bridges was stripped three times, assessed a first half charge and a push off in the second half to end the game with five turnovers.
Responsible for six of the team’s 21 turnovers against U-M, freshman guard Cassius Winston will look to shake off his poor performance against the Wolverines, shooting just 1-for-4 for three points. In the first outing against U-M, Winston led the team with 16 points.
MSU vs. Iowa will tipoff on Saturday at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Big Ten Network.
“They’re (Iowa) non-stop on offense,” Bridges said. “They’re going to be a tough team to guard.”