Just about everything went wrong for the Iowa Hawkeyes in their first Big Ten road trip of the season against the Michigan State Spartans. The Hawkeyes fell, 90-68, in a game where Nick Ward and Xavier Tillman absolutely dominated the paint. The two combined for 40 points on 15-16 shooting. Ward was the primary reason for that, scoring a career-high 26 points on a perfect 10-10 field goal performance despite foul trouble throughout the game.
The key of the game for the Spartans, besides dominating the paint? Assists. The Spartans assisted on 28-of-31 field goals. A 23-3 run to start the second half didn’t hurt, either. The Hawkeyes went ice cold from every area of the court and Michigan State punished them for it. Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon and Isaiah Moss scored double-digit points for the Hawkeyes, but nobody shot the ball particularly well. Bohannon finished 4-12, including 2-7 from beyond the arc. Luka Garza finished 1-10, but managed to score seven points thanks to making 4-4 shots from the charity stripe. Tyler Cook was Iowa’s leading scorer, with 15 points and 8 rebounds. But a lot of the points for every player wearing black and gold came late in the second half when the game was already out of hand.
It’s the Hawkeyes second loss in a row after starting the season 6-0, and puts the Hawkeyes at 0-2 in Big Ten play. Let’s relive the game below.
Iowa looked strong at the beginning of the first half, opening up to a 6-2 lead that quickly glossed into a 13-9 lead at the first media timeout. But the Spartans were able to attack under the basket with ease right from their first play out of the tip, and it was a problem for Iowa the entire night.
Despite Iowa’s early lead, the Spartans were able to climb back into the game at 19 apiece with a little over 11 minutes left in the first half. Michigan State’s run to tie the game made it seem like they had taken an insurmountable read, but Iowa only trailed by a few points for most of the first half.
Conor McCaffery and Luka Garza spending time on the bench with foul trouble certainly didn’t help things, either. Both earned their second foul before the 10 minute mark of the first half, sending them to the bench during Michigan State’s climb back. The teams traded blows, and Joe Wieskamp scored a basket with a foul with 7:40 left in the first half to make the score 24-23, but he missed the free throw.
The teams traded blows , but with Iowa only trailing 30-26 with under five minutes in the half, Michigan State scored a three pointer to go up 33-26.
From there, the Hawkeyes went ice cold.
Nothing seemed to be working offensively. Shooters couldn’t get open looks beyond the arc. Tyler Cook tried to play ball handler and drove to the basket, but the refs didn’t blow the whistles, and he had the ball swatted right out of his hands. Michigan State scored an easy bucket underneath the basket, bringing the lead to nine. It brought the team’s assist total to 12, with only two turnovers. With two minutes left, the Hawkeyes trailed by 10, 39-29, before the game became the Michigan State show.
Iowa came back after halftime trailing 43-33, but the Michigan State lead quickly grew to 13. In the blink of an eye, the score was 50-33, and barely two minutes had ticked off the clock. Jordan Bohannon managed to hit a three before Iowa ripped off nine consecutive misses, bringing their total for the half to 1/16 from the field.
Michigan State messed with the Hawkeyes from there. It’s not worth your time to read about it in detail. Yes, Iowa eventually hit some shots, but the damage was done. The lead had bloomed to 30 when Iowa players finally started hitting shots again.
To make it worse, Joe Wieskmap fell to the ground clutching his leg with just over 11 minutes in the game after he backed into Tyler Cook’s calf. He looked like he limped off the floor putting decent weight on his leg. He didn’t return to the game, and we’ll update you here if there’s anything notable to report from Iowa media.
Up next is Iowa State on Thursday at Carver. Yes, Michigan State was a good team, but this is an embarrassing loss for Iowa. A third straight loss later this week might set the season into a tailspin.
Was Iowa truly the third best team in the Big Ten? No. But there are clearly some things this team will need to adjust — and fast! — if they want to avoid another conference collapse like last season.