The Breakdown: Michigan State Blows Out Hawkeyes

December 3, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

Iowa struggled in just about every phase of basketball Monday night at Michigan State. It resulted in another blowout loss in the Breslin Center.

The 10th-ranked Spartans rocked the visitors, 90-68, in front of an announced crowd of 14,797. No. 18 Iowa fell to 3-22 in the venue. It’s dropped 18 of its last 19 there, many of which looked a lot like Monday’s debacle.

The Hawkeyes (6-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) trailed 26-25 with 6:55 left in the first half. From that point until there were 16:40 remaining in regulation, Michigan State enjoyed a 28-8 run. Iowa would not get closer than 16 the rest of the way and the Spartans led by as many as 33.

“Pretty much everything,” coach Fran McCaffery said when asked what went wrong for his team during that stretch.

The home team worked over the Hawkeyes in the paint, holding a 48-20 advantage. Spartan power forward Nick Ward hit all 10 of his field goal attempts, finishing with 26 points and nine rebounds.

“We did a poor job in the zone, got isolated on our small forward a couple of times, that’s a tough cover for them. They got some stuff in transition, which we were trying to guard against and really didn’t do a very good job,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

The Hawkeyes tried man-to-man defense at the start. MSU point guard Cassius Winston (12 assists, 1 turnover) broke that down off the dribble. When they went to multiple zones, Ward, Kenny Goins (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Xavier Tillman (14 points, 8 rebounds) feasted. The Spartans assisted on 28 of their 31 field goals and only turned it over eight times.

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That shouldn’t happen against a zone. It’s designed to clog the lane.

Foul trouble also hindered the Hawkeyes. Backup point guard Connor McCaffery picked up his second personal with 11 minutes left in the first half and didn’t return until after the intermission. Starting center Luka Garza sat the final 9:46 of the first after being whistled for two. Reserve center Ryan Kriener also had two fouls before halftime.

Michigan State locked up the Hawkeyes defensively. Garza finished just 1 of 10 from the floor. Jordan Bohannon’s shooting struggles continued as he went 4 of 12 from the floor after a 3-for-12 performance in Friday’s loss to Wisconsin. Iowa shot quick and lacked ball movement.

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Overall, Iowa connected on just 32.8 percent of its shots from the floor and 66.7 percent from the foul line. It finished with 13 assists and 11 turnovers.

Cook led the way with 15 points. He played 37 minutes, in large part because of others’ foul trouble.

The Hawkeyes will try to end their two-game skid on Thursday when they play host to Iowa State. They could be without one of their top players in Joe Wieskampp.

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The freshman from Muscatine stepped on a teammate’s shoe and twisted his ankle during the second half Monday. He did not return.

“He hurt his ankle. It’s pretty much too early to say about Thursday. We’ll see how he is (the next couple days). It will probably be a game-time decision for him,” Fran McCaffery said.

Isaiah Moss scored 13 points and handed out a team-high three assists in Monday’s losing effort. He played 33 minutes. Garza led Iowa with nine rebounds, while cooked pulled down eight.

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