Another ‘almost’ for Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY – The biggest win in Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s four-year tenure was there for the taking.
McCaffery thought the Hawkeyes weren’t tough enough to pull it out.
Missing every field goal they took for nearly 15 minutes didn’t help either.
Keith Appling scored 16 points and No. 7 Michigan State outlasted the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes 71-69 in overtime Tuesday night, handing Iowa its first home loss of the season.
“We weren’t tough at all,” McCaffery said. “I think they were being nice.”
The Spartans certainly appreciated the hospitality.
Matt Costello had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans (19-2, 8-1 Big Ten), who avoided consecutive defeats despite missing injured starters Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson.
Costello’s tip-in with 1:14 left gave Michigan State a 67-64 lead, and Russell Byrd’s 3 with 34 seconds put Michigan State up by six.
Roy Devyn Marble had 21 points for Iowa (16-5, 5-3), including a layup with 6 seconds left in overtime that snapped a staggering 14:50 drought from the field.
Iowa still had a chance to force a second overtime, but Mike Gesell missed a driving layup at the buzzer.
“The only thing Mike could have done is gone a little more to the basket, and he kind of floated away from the defender,” McCaffery said of the game’s final shot.
The Hawkeyes boast one of the nation’s deepest benches, and they kept threatening to run away from the undermanned Spartans early in the second half.
Michigan State wouldn’t let it happen.
The tough-minded Spartans had an answer for nearly every basket that could have swung the momentum back in Iowa’s favor.
Denzel Valentine finished with 12 points, including a crucial quick layup when the Hawkeyes seemed set for a transition basket. Travis Trice then followed with a 3 to give Michigan State a 51-50 lead.
Iowa later went ahead by six points, but Appling – with his right shooting wrist heavily taped – hit a 3, and a layup and dunk by Costello made it 58-57 Spartans with 4:06 left.
The Hawkeyes had a chance to win in regulation, but Marble missed a runner just before the buzzer.
“Wanted to put the ball in Marble’s hands there. He’s the guy,” McCaffery said.
Aaron White had 10 points for the Hawkeyes, who lost despite hitting 19 more free throws than Michigan State. But Iowa also had just one starter shoot over 50 percent from the field – and that’s because center Adam Woodbury hit the only one he took.
It was a tough loss for Iowa considering that it had been nearly a decade since Iowa City had seen a game this big.
Iowa hadn’t hosted a Top 25 opponent as a ranked team since 2006, when it last went to the NCAA tournament. Even Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad made the 2-hour drive from Des Moines to see the program’s biggest home game in years.
It proved to be a physical, back-and-forth?affair between two teams with serious aspirations of a Big Ten title.
In the end, it was the Spartans who pulled out a game featuring 16 lead changes and 11 ties and stayed within shouting distance of league-leading Michigan.
“I told my team, you’re going to have to play tough. I didn’t say well because they’re going to take your heart,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.