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NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa was poised to notch its by-far best win of the season, taking No. 4 Michigan State to the wire in Iowa City. As we’ve seen before, the Hawkeyes broke some hearts, falling to Sparty 96-93.

Michigan State got out to an early 10-2 lead and it looked as though this would be another Iowa blowout like we’ve seen all season. Then Jordan Bohannon scored five quick points and pumped some life into his teammates. Iowa’s bigs answered the call and matched pound for pound with Sparty, scoring 22 points in the paint in the first half.

Bohannon got into some foul trouble early, forcing Maishe Dailey to play 12 minutes in the first frame. Dailey notched 7 points early, making a three as the shot clock expired early in his appearance. Fran McCaffery immediately pulled Dailey afterward, for some reason. But he returned shortly thereafter and finished the game with 13 points in 18 minutes of playing time. He showed a lot in proving that he’s a solid option at point guard for this team.

Give Iowa credit for making it a game. The Hawkeyes were down just 48-42 at half, and forced Michigan State to turn it over and take ill-advised shots. We said before the game that Iowa’s best chance to win would involve mucking it up. And muck it up Iowa did, forcing Michigan State to commit 10 turnovers.

Iowa got gritty in the second half and started off a 9-1 run until Miles Bridges hit a pull-up jumper. The Hawkeyes got within one; and Tyler Cook wasn’t done.

Cook scored 8 of Iowa’s 9 points over a stretch to give the Black & Gold their first lead of the game. He ended the night with 26 points in 37 minutes and had one of the more dominant performances from an Iowa basketball player I’ve seen in awhile.

Lots of players showed up tonight for Iowa. Bohannon, who’s apparently sick and was a game-time decision had 17 points, going 5-8 from three. Cordell Pemsl had 11 points and looked like he was going to put the entire team on his back during a four-minute stretch. Isaiah Moss had 4 boards, 4 assists (including that pretty display above) and 11 points. I mentioned Dailey earlier.

Thanks to being in the bonus with 15 minutes to play in the second half, Iowa eventually clawed to an eight-point lead after a three from Dailey.

The Hawkeyes couldn’t keep pouring it on, however, and Michigan State ended the game on a 12-4 run to come out of Iowa City unscathed.

The Hawkeyes had just 6 turnovers in the first half; and didn’t have any giveaways at all in the second frame up until the final thirty seconds of the contest, where Iowa turned it over twice. The Hawkeyes had just over 6 seconds to tie the game after a pair of made free throws by Joshua Langford. Miles Bridges stole the inbound from Maishe Dailey, and that was all she wrote.

Bridges did miss the final two free-throws to make it interesting; alas:

The Hawkeyes had a chance at a huge upset, but couldn’t finish. We’ve seen this movie before.

Other notes:

  • Iowa had five players score in double figures. That’s pretty good!
  • Both teams shot over 50 percent; as you can tell from the score, defense wasn’t a huge factor in this one.
  • Fran McCaffery seems to have tightened up to an 8-man rotation. Ryan Kriener, Brady Ellingson and Ahmad Wagner look to be the odd men out.
  • Iowa shot 9-20 from three, which is less impressive when you consider Bohannon went 5-8 from range.
  • Miles Bridges is a really good basketball player.
  • Iowa had 42 points in the paint compared to Sparty’s 38. If I was Fran, I’d try and create more offense in the middle more often to try and take pressure off our guards.

And that’s that. Next up Iowa travels to No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday night. Go Hawks.