Iowa men’s basketball’s upset bid falls out of reach against Michigan State

After leading early in the second half, things fell apart offensively and defensively for Iowa in its loss to Michigan State.

Declan Levy

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

The upset was there.

No. 19 Iowa led No. 6 Michigan State by 8 points early in the second half, and Carver-Hawkeye was on its feet, as loud as its been all season.

Then the Spartans (18-2) threw a knockout punch in the form of a 24-2 run, effectively smothering any upset hopes remaining for the Hawkeyes (16-4). Michigan State won, 82-67.

“We just had to lock in during that stretch,” Luka Garza said. “When they started to come back at us and we needed another run, we didn’t have that in us.”

Iowa controlled momentum late in the first half and early in the second prior to the Spartan floodgate.

One play in particular, a mad scramble for a rebound that bounced off seemingly every player on the court, landed in Jordan Bohannon’s arms while he was on the ground. He signaled for a timeout, and Carver-Hawkeye was as loud as it had been all season.

That noise faded into distant memory late in the game, as Michigan State’s lead grew to 19 in the closing minutes.

For the Hawkeyes, they got most of their offensive production in the post. Luka Garza scored 20 points and Tyler Cook added 17. All in all, Iowa scored 40 points in the paint, but it just could not buy a bucket from beyond the 3-point line.

“It sucks. I had a lot of open shots tonight I thought were going down. Everyone did,” Jordan Bohannon said. “We missed a lot of bunnies tonight. It was an 8-point lead at the time, but it could have been a 16-point lead if we made some shots.”

Less than a week after making 15 of its 21 attempts from downtown against Illinois, Iowa shot an abysmal 5-for-24 from 3-point range – a 50-percent decline from its last win.

Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, and Isaiah Moss combined to shoot 2-for-14 from 3-point range. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said that he was pleased with his defense, but he also believed it was just one of those nights where shots couldn’t fall on Iowa’s end.

“Bohannon missed one late in the corner, there was nobody near him. I bet he’d make nine out of 10 of those,” Izzo said. “I think a little bit of it was us, but I think Moss had a couple [good looks], Bohannon maybe a couple long ones, and for some reason, Wieskamp has not played as well against us. I love that kid, I love what he brings. But he’s not played well against us.”

Iowa fed the ball to its bigs and attacked the basket to draw fouls, but the whistles never sounded.

The Hawkeyes shot just eight free throws on Thursday, less than a third of their per-game average heading into the game.

“When you’re the leading team in the country in free-throw shooting and we only shoot eight, that says a lot,” Bohannon said. “Fouls weren’t being called. [Michigan State] shot 21, we shot eight. We just didn’t get the whistle.”

Iowa defense appeared in full strength early on, forcing four turnovers on Michigan State’s first five possessions. The Hawkeyes limited the Spartans 52.9 percent shooting in period No. 1, but the second half was a different story.

Michigan State shot 66.7 percent in the second, knocking down six of its 10 3-point attempts, and Iowa could not keep up.

The Hawkeyes, though, don’t have much time to sit on their fourth loss of the season.

Iowa travels to Minnesota on Sunday for a showdown with the Gophers, and the players know they’ve got to flush the loss in order to play with a clean slate.

“We had [Michigan State] right there, especially going into the second half, but we know we’ve got another game on the horizon on Sunday against a really good Minnesota team,” Bohannon said. “It’s another chance for us to build our resume, and as much as we want to dwell on this, the league’s not set up to dwell on much.”