After a much needed 80-65 win over No. 17 Indiana Tuesday night, the Spartans are hoping to carry the momentum with them as they travel to Iowa City for Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes.
Tuesday’s matchup got off to a typical slow offensive start for the Spartans.
Senior guard Tyson Walker got cooking midway through the first half, putting consecutive three-pointers on the board to get the ball rolling. Other players quickly joined in, including freshman center Jaxon Kohler as he went up against Indiana’s star big man, Trayce Jackson-Davis.
“Tyson was out of his mind there with a couple of those shots,” Head Coach Tom Izzo said.
The slow start on offense was accompanied by three turnovers within the initial six minutes, courtesy of junior guard A.J. Hoggard. MSU’s starting point guard came alive in the second half. Demonstrating the invaluable guard play the Spartans need heading into the postseason.
Another player with a stellar performance was junior center Mady Sissoko. The 6-foot-9-inch big collected three rebounds, one assist and one big block against Jackson-Davis.
MSU’s offensive performance matched its defensive prowess. The Spartans outrebounded their opponent, 33-24.
Freshman center Carson Cooper showed up to Tuesday's matchup wearing a boot on his foot after spraining his ankle coming down after taking a shot during Monday’s practice. Cooper participated in practice on Thursday and could be ready to go as soon as Saturday against Iowa.
“It really showed me a lot because it was a pretty bad sprain,” Izzo said. “This kid is number one tough and number two a quick healer.”
Scouting the Opponent:
The Hawkeyes sit right below the Spartans in conference standings (9-8) after their most recent consecutive losses against No. 21 Northwestern and Wisconsin, both on the road.
The last time the two faced off, MSU hung on until the final game seconds to defeat Iowa 63-61.
Iowa junior guard Ahron Ulis collected a team-high 17 points and three assists. Ulis picked up Iowa’s one and only technical foul along with Walker after a verbal altercation early on in the second half.
Fifth-year forward Filip Rebraca recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in the matchup.
As MSU nears its final conference matchups and approaches the postseason, the Spartans look to pick up a few more wins and build on recent momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
‘I think our chemistry is definitely building and we’re making the right improvements and heading in the right direction,” senior forward Malik Hall said. “I’m excited as we continue to grow to see all the great things we do.”
With the amount of parity present in the Big Ten, each game makes a difference, which explains Izzo’s frustration on whether or not MSU will face Minnesota after the showdown was postponed last Wednesday.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I'm frustrated with the Big Ten office and the way it's gone" Izzo said. "There is nothing clear... nothing."
Tipoff is set for Saturday at noon and the showdown will be televised on ESPN.
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