On a night where neither team seemed to miss a basket, Michigan State fell apart in the waning minutes of what looked to be an impressive road victory to lose 112-106 to Iowa in overtime.
The Spartans had a double-digit lead with just under a minute left in the game. All momentum was with MSU when Iowa nailed five straight three-pointers and sent the game to overtime. In the extra period, it was all Hawkeyes.
"That was piss-poor coaching," Head Coach Tom Izzo said. "Thirteen point lead with two minutes left and you can't win a game."
Both teams were unstoppable from three throughout the afternoon. The Spartans shot 73%, going 11-15. Iowa made 17, shooting 47%.
Senior guard Tyson Walker was electric from start to finish. Splashing threes, driving to the basket and pulling up for mid-range jumpers - Walker scored in a bevy of ways. He finished with a team-high 31 points, a season high.
Walker wasn’t the only one firing on all cylinders. Sophomore guard Jaden Akins also notched a season-high in points, shooting 4-4 from three and earning 21 points. Five Spartans reached double-digits by the end of the match: Walker, Akins, junior guard A.J. Hoggard, fifth-year senior forward Joey Hauser and senior forward Malik Hall.
Baskets didn’t just come from beyond the arch. The Spartans drove the net often, earning 36 free throws, although that number is a tad inflated, thanks to all the fouling that occurred in the final two minutes.
The first half was all offense. Michigan State went shot-for-shot with Iowa’s potent shooters in the first half, shooting 63% from the field and 75% from beyond the arch. Hauser and Walker were especially hot, combining for 21 of MSU’s 42 first half points.
The only real struggle for the offense in the first 20 minutes were turnovers. MSU went into the locker room with nine turnovers, three of those coming from junior guard A.J. Hoggard. The only real cold stretch for the Spartan offense featured five straight turnovers, handing the Hawkeyes momentum for the middle chunk of the half.
Defensively, Michigan State couldn’t find a way to stop fifth-year senior forward Filip Rebraca. The 6-foot-9-inch big from Serbia led the Hawkeyes with 12 points at the half, earning most of his points in the paint.
Despite the turnovers and excellent play of Rebraca, MSU found a way to stick around thanks to its red-hot shooters. Iowa possessed the lead for a majority of the half, but the Spartans’ starters just kept answering, never letting the deficit reach double-digits.
A trip to the locker room did nothing to slow the offenses. Michigan State and Iowa kept up the scoring. The Spartans went 5-5 from three and went to the free throw line 30 times. Walker improved upon his first half showing in the second, exploding for 21 points.
Michigan State took control of the game a few minutes into the half, dictating pace of play for a majority of the second. Iowa kept things close until the final five minutes of the game. MSU tightened up and extended the lead to double-digits.
With less than a minute left, the visitors had a 10-point lead. But Iowa refused to go down without a fight.
Somehow, against all odds, Iowa managed to nail five straight three-pointers, effectively tying things up and sending the game to overtime. The crowd was frenzied and the Spartans were on the wrong side of momentum. The game went from a surefire road victory for MSU to a collapse of epic proportions.
"It shouldn't be underscored that 90% of that game we did a hell of a job," Izzo said. "But the game's 40 minutes, sometimes its 45, but it's never 38."
Iowa just kept scoring in extra time. Michigan State’s offense finally cooled off and the Hawkeyes slowly crawled away with the game. Ultimately, MSU couldn't claw its way back and the home team walked away with a miracle comeback victory.
"The head coach has to take responsibility," Izzo said. "I'm really proud of my guys, I thought they played their tails off. I thought they played as well as they could play, and we didn't finish the job. Very, very, disappointed."
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