Spartans take down Hawkeyes after strong second half

Cassius Winston and company heated up in the final 20 minutes to send Iowa to sixth place in the conference.

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Katina Zentz

Iowa center Luka Garza shoots the ball during the men's basketball game against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Robert Read, Sports Editor


Cassius Winston can’t be contained for long. That was true once again Tuesday night.

After scoring only one point for Michigan State in the first half, the All-American guard went off in the final 20 minutes against Iowa.

In the second half, Winston energized the Spartans with 19 points and four 3-pointers in a 78-70 win over the Hawkeyes in East Lansing. Winston also dished out a game-high nine assists and hauled in five rebounds.

“He hit some shots early [in the second half],” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They started running plays for him, started screening for him. That takes a lot of attention. He got loose, but it also created some opportunities for [Aaron] Henry and Rocket [Watts]. Those guys got it going in the second half too.”

It wasn’t a one-man show for Michigan State. Rocket Watts led the Spartans with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while Aaron Henry notched 17 points along with six rebounds.

After trailing by six points at the break and as much as 10 in the second half, Michigan State outscored Iowa 51-37 in the final 20 minutes. This is the first time this season the Spartans won a game after trailing at halftime. They were previously being 0-9 in such games.

Iowa center Luka Garza came into Tuesday looking to improve his last performance in East Lansing. Last season on the road against the Spartans, Garza finished with only seven points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field.

To begin the game, it looked like another tough game may be in store for the junior. Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, registered his first point on a free throw with 12:35 remaining in the first half. He hit his first shot from the field 88 seconds later.

Then, Garza got going.

After starting the game 0-of-4 from the field, Garza managed to finish the first half with 12 points. For the game, the player of the year candidate scored 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting. He also grabbed nine rebounds and played for all but 24 seconds of game time.

Garza matched up with Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman for much of the second half. Tillman, who struggled with foul trouble in the first half, defended Garza about as well as any other opponent this season.

Still, Garza set milestones against Michigan State.

The Washington native has now scored 20 or more points in 13 straight games, tying Fred Brown’s 49-year-old Iowa record. Garza’s also scored 20 or more in nine straight games against AP-Top 25 opponents — the longest such streak by a player in the last 15 seasons.

The Hawkeyes’ second-leading scorer didn’t fare as well against the Spartans.

Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp continued his cold stretch on Tuesday. The sophomore had scored only 15 points in his previous two games. He still couldn’t find his stroke from deep against the Spartans. Wieskamp shot 1-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from deep on Tuesday. He scored four points.

“He struggled scoring and shooting,” McCaffery said. “In fairness to him — he didn’t hunt shots. He took good shots that were open…He kept playing defense, kept getting on the glass. He’s a team guy. I feel bad that a couple of those open shots didn’t go in for him. Nobody feels worse than he does.”

The Hawkeyes now sit 2.5 games out of first place in the Big Ten with three games to play. Next on the schedule for Iowa is Penn State. The teams will take the court Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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