Michigan State sinks Iowa in Big Ten
by Joe Rexrode, USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO – Big, quick, physical and working with tremendous coordination, Iowa’s defense Friday looked like that of a team playing in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Then suddenly it was shredded, left behind in a flurry of Michigan State drives, highlight dunks and timely jump shots.
And then it almost brought Iowa all the way back from an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes of a frantic, dramatic Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game at United Center.
No. 3 seed MSU (25-7) prevailed 59-56 to reach today’s semifinals against No. 2 seed Ohio State, after trailing for most of the night and by 12 with less than 12 minutes to play.
The Spartans used an overwhelming 24-4 run to take a 57-49 lead, and it looked like No. 6 seed Iowa (21-12) was done. Then the Hawkeyes got two steals and scored seven points in less than a minute to get within one.
But Iowa’s Aaron White was called for fouling Gary Harris on a jump shot, and Harris made both with 29.4 seconds left. Iowa did not like that call.
“This team deserved a better fate tonight,” coach Fran McCaffery said.
The Hawkeyes’ final shot was a Roy Devyn Marble bomb contested by Adreian Payne and rebounded off the rim by Payne to send MSU to the semifinals – and Iowa to a tournament other than the big one. The Hawkeyes needed at least one high-quality win over the weekend to have a shot at their first NCAA bid since 2006.
MSU coach Tom Izzo disagreed with that assessment and said Iowa should be in. He also said his team wasn’t ready to play from the start and that Iowa “outworked us for three-fourths of that game,” but also that every one of his key players “made a hero’s play at the end.”
Payne led MSU with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Harris and Keith Appling both rebounded from rough first halves to lead the Spartans in the second. Both scored 13 – both with 11 in the second — and both had monster dunks after the break.
“Keith told us we weren’t losing the game,” … [For more on Michigan State comes back to sink Iowa in Big Ten, click here.]