In the clutch Durrell Summers had a big three that put the Spartans ahead for good.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

In the clutch Durrell Summers had a big three that put the Spartans ahead for good. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

 

 

Conseco Fieldhouse

Indianapolis, IN

 

Tom Izzo is arguably the best coach in the nation when March tournament’s surface.  Those who follow this program know his mantra:  “Survive and advance.”  His exact words when he hit the podium after today’s 66-61 win over Iowa was, “It’s about survive and advance and we did.”

 

It wasn’t pretty, but frankly the Spartan Nation isn’t looking for that anymore. 

 

The Spartans still had too many turnovers (15) but they dominated on the boards with a 39-31 advantage.  Draymond Green led the Spartans with 21 points and fourteen boards.  This time of year conditioning is huge and Izzo admitted that his star, “…got tired.  Day asked twice to come out.”

 

After MSU had a seven point lead the in first half, Iowa did fight back and at the 11:20 point of the second half had their own seven point win.  Draymond said of the time Iowa was up, “Not at one point did we think we were out of it.”

 

Keith Appling went down with an injured right ankle in the first half that sent him to the locker room and Kalin went down injuring and ankle that had him hobbling the rest of the game.  Izzo said when asked about his team’s health, “I don’t think it would be good if we were healthy.”

 

Durrell Summers certainly didn’t perform at the level he did in the NCAA tournament last year, but he did get on the floor and play hard.  He was crucial for the MSU win down the home stretch.  He ended with game with nine points, but was four for four from the line when it counted.  Summers said of this time of year, “It is winning time.  You have to do anything to win.”

 

A reporter asked Draymond Green what it is the Spartans do to succeed when the tournaments start.  He thought and said, “Our focus level goes up.  Our intensity goes up.  It all goes up.”

 

The Spartans shot 40% for the game and held Iowa to 39%. 

 

Wins are what matter and with today’s they advance to play a Purdue team at 6:30 PM tomorrow that has already beaten them twice.  There can’t be a doubt that MSU is in the Big Dance now with a record of 18-13.

 

Interestingly back on March 5, just five days ago the Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers 67-65.  Can the Spartans get the upset?  It is March and Izzo said after today’s win, “For everybody it (today’s win) is a lift.  We are back to baby steps now.”