True story: at a few minutes before 7 p.m., MSU was beating Iowa so handily that I ceded control of the living room TV to the girlfriend* so that she could watch American Idol. Hey, who could blame me? MSU was up by 19 and tossing alley-oops just to impress Gus Johnson, while Iowa had all the positive body language of the Undertaker. Sure, the Hawkeyes pulled out a stunner 17 years ago, but this isn't that team. At all.
So about 10-15 minutes into the episode**, HS alerts me to the fact that it's a 7-point game all of a sudden. Then it's 6. Then 4. Okay, TV's coming back on, and I get to see just enough to make me hate this team all over again. Still, pushing the game to one possession with under two minutes left is no small feat. Moral victory? Sure thing, because buddy, when you're 1-5 in the conference, grandstanding about "not accepting moral victories" needs to go straight out the window. Take what you can get.
Of course, while it's cool that Iowa shot its way back into a game--not unlike what they did with Purdue and Minnesota, or even MSU last season--it's also worth pointing out that this isn't exactly an isolated incident for MSU either. Here's what Michigan State had to say about it:
"I'm used to our great teams playing with incredible emotion," [head coach Tom] Izzo said. "This team is not quite like that right now. ... I'm not happy with tonight's performance. I'm not happy with where we are."
"I'm starting to get concerned," said Michigan State's Draymond Green, who had 11 rebounds and nine points. "We play six of our next eight on the road. ... If we play like that, we're going to lose."
Fun! Also, TOC want to gouge their own eyes out, and their team even won.
But anyway. Enough about my television. Nobody cares about my television. Final score--as seen above--was 70-63, bad guys. Iowa's stats seemed decent enough--once again, MSU committed more turnovers (15) than the good guys (14)--but Iowa's effectively doomed them in Michigan State's 21-2 first half run. Every time we looked up, someone for MSU was leaping into a passing lane or Matt Gatens was trying to injure fans in the 10th row with an errant pass. For whatever reason, Gatens was off, off, off tonight, committing six turnovers and hitting just three of his last 12 shots.
Depth continued to be a weakness; three bench points off nine shots and 42 game minutes, for example, is an awful burden to put on your starters in any game, much less at the Breslin Center. John Lickliter hoisted five threes; all of them clanked harmlessly off the rim. Devan Bawinkel did nothing. Andrew Brommer did nothing. Oh, and Brennan Cougill played 12 minutes, for which the Sioux City Journal will doubtlessly take credit. The real reason, though, is the same reason why he got 21 minutes the last time Iowa played MSU: foul trouble on the inside. This time, it was Jarryd Cole (who had unexpected flashes of competence) who could only spend 25 minutes on the court while racking up four fouls. That's Cougill's role on the team this season, obviously. Well, we shouldn't say "obviously," since nobody at the SCJ has figured that out yet.
As for what's next, it's likely Iowa's only shot at a road victory this season--they face Indiana on Sunday afternoon at 4. It was going to be 3, but then the whole Colts-Jets thing is going on, and really, what's an hour here or there when there's two lousy college basketball teams at play? And while Colts-Jets is the one playoff game that will directly impact the Iowa-IU game, we're more interested in that night's game between New Orleans and Minnesota, if only because we're not really sure which game--that or Iowa-IU--will feature more scoring. Seriously, there's no telling.
*Okay, fine, I admit it; she's inflatable. it's like a Lars and the Real Doll thing, except it's not quirky and touching... just disturbing.
**Quick recap: pretty girl sings good! Ugly guy sings bad! Fat girl sings bad and gets laughed at! Guy with inspirational story sings good! More pretty girls sing good! Lots of dumb guys sing bad! Point and laugh at the uggos! The end.