East Lansing, MI
The #4 ranked Michigan State Spartans could not avenge their only loss of the season getting blown out tonight vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes 76-59 here at the packed and raucous Breslin Center. The Spartans record falls on the year to 16-2 (3-2) and are certain to lose their #4 national ranking on Monday.
The Spartan Nation saw star guard and potential player of the year Denzel Valentine return to the starting lineup. He didnâ€™t play in the Spartans first loss in Iowa City on December 29 when the Spartans fell 78-63. Valentine had 14 points, four rebounds and five assists in his return.
MSU head coach Tom Izzo said of the game, â€œI wish I had some magical words. There is a lot of blame I am going to give us tomorrow, but tonight I am going to give Iowa a lot of credit. The tough team won. We have to regroup. We have a good team and they have a really good team. We just didnâ€™t do our job. A flat ass kicking.â€
Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery obviously had a different take after his teamâ€™s big win, â€œWe knew and understood what it was going to take to play well and win here. It is a consistency of execution. If you let down they are going to score or get a rebound. To come out here and rebound them is big. Our defense and attention to detail was as good as it was going to get.â€
On the night MSU was down 22 at the half and the game was never close. MSU had 16 turnovers compared to the Hawkeyes nine. Iowa also won the rebounding battle as mentioned 39-35, usually a staple of MSU basketball.
Matt Costello was the only other Spartan to join Valentine with double digit scoring and he had a game high 15 and also led MSU on the boards with nine. Iowa shot 10 of 22 from three and finished shooting 43% from the field to the Spartans 42%.
One area that did impress Izzo was the crowd. Izzo had set as one of the teams goals this season not to lose a game at home. They did their part tonight. They arrived early and stayed loud throughout the beating. I asked him about the NCAA tournament intensity of the fans. â€œOur crowd hung right with us until the four minute mark, but we didnâ€™t player very well.
With tonightâ€™s loss, MSU head coach Tom Izzo remains one game back of former ICONIC Purdue Coach Gene Keady for second-most wins at a Big Ten school who has 512, Izzo obviously has 511. Izzo still stands a long way from former ICONIC Indiana Coach Bobby Knight who has 661.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM ET. That game can be seen on CBS.