The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball holds onto halftime lead, defies foul trouble to take down Michigan State

The Hawkeyes shot 78 percent from the foul line and found crucial baskets down the stretch to dethrone the Spartans for their second Quad 1 victory this season.
Grace Smith
Iowa forward Payton Sandfort and Iowa forward Owen Freeman high five during game one of the Hy-Vee Hawkeye Showcase between Iowa men’s basketball and Florida A&M at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Rattlers 88-52.

Once again with a halftime lead on the road, the Iowa men’s basketball team finally held on to victory in East Lansing, taking down Michigan State, 78-71. Up 12 points at the break, the Hawkeyes overcame foul trouble and never trailed over the final 20 minutes to get back to a .500 Big Ten mark. 

The triumph marks Iowa’s first back-to-back wins since Jan. 12-15 and first road win since Junior forward Payton Sandfort led the effort with 22 points, followed by grad-transfer forward Ben Krikke with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

The Hawkeyes found themselves ahead, 9-5, after the first four minutes as Iowa’s big men of Owen Freeman, Ben Krikke, and Ladji Dembele combined to shoot 3-of-4 from the field. But that advantage was as large as Iowa would receive in the first 14 minutes, as Freeman and Dembele combined for five fouls and Michigan State took advantage. The Spartans snagged six offensive boards as the Spartans took a 27-24 lead with just over 6:30 remaining in the period. 

Leading this charge for head coach Tom Izzo’s squad was the three-point shot, as the home team connected on 46 percent of its attempts during the frame. But just when the green and white-clad crowd at the Breslin Center began to come to life, Iowa stepped on the gas, embarking on a 15-1 run to take an 11-point advantage. 

With Freeman stuck on the bench for all but three minutes, forward Patrick McCaffery shot 4-of-4 from the field, including a breakaway dunk. After not scoring in Iowa’s previous matchup against Wisconsin, fellow reserve Pryce Sandfort denied Michigan State guard Tyson Walker in the paint and splashed his first attempt from beyond the arc. 

Sandfort’s older brother, Payton, painted the finishing touch on the opening 20 minutes, flying off a screen and drilling a triple from the top of the key as Iowa carried a 45-33 lead into the break. 

Over the first 20 minutes, the Hawkeyes scored nine points off turnovers and 16 in the paint, shooting 57 percent from the field. Iowa had three double-digit scorers in McCaffery, Krikke, and the elder Sandfort. 

Freeman started the second half and would create an instant impact, rejecting Michigan State’s Malik Hall and then scoring on an elaborate post move for his second field goal of the game. Yet soon after, the Spartans attacked the young center down low, forcing two fouls on Freeman in 25 seconds. 

Iowa’s 2-3 zone defense started to crack in the second half, as Hall and teammate A.J. Hoggard combined for 13 points to cut the lead to single digits. But just as the Spartans got within striking distance, the Hawkeye veterans answered. Senior Tony Perkins converted two acrobatic layups while Krikke blew past his defender with a pump fake for a dunk. 

Krikke’s lefty hook shot put Iowa ahead, 64-58, with 6:46 to go. The Hawkeyes’ speed on the offensive end pushed the lead back to 11, as McCaffery and Payton Sandfort each took fast-break layups to the cup. In response, the Spartans sprinted to a 6-0 run as the Hawkeyes tossed up two air-balls. 

Up just five with 2:31 remaining, Freeman checked in and assisted Payton Sandfort on a back-cut. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week chipped in once again, slamming home a Perkins lob. Four Hawkeye free throws later, and Iowa added its second consecutive Quad 1 victory. 

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.