IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa blinked, and was quickly on the brink.
The No. 21 Hawkeyes had an eight-point lead and a home crowd sensing a big upset Thursday.
No. 5 Michigan State found an extra reserve of intensity. The Hawkeyes couldn’t match it. Within minutes, the game was essentially over.
The Spartans used a 24-2 burst to breeze past the Hawkeyes 82-67 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The suddenness of the change in fortunes was enough to induce whiplash.
Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston was the catalyst. He scored 23 points, with seven assists. His trio of 3-pointers in the second half were each more punishing than the last. He was by far the best player on the court, especially when the outcome was still in play.
Iowa saw its five-game winning streak snapped. The Hawkeyes got a gritty 20 points from sophomore center Luka Garza. They built a 50-42 lead early in the second half.
None of it mattered once the Spartans went on the attack.
Michigan State has now won an incredible 21 consecutive Big Ten Conference games, 12 of them on the road. They were unfazed when Iowa matched their intensity for 25 minutes. They just worked a little harder, and the Hawkeyes couldn’t respond.
No play epitomized the take-no-prisoners first half like a loose ball that was grappled for by virtually every player on the court. Michigan State’s Thomas Kithier appeared set to corral it at last when Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon, laying on his back, poked the ball away and grabbed it just long enough to signal timeout as the crowd roared its loudest in appreciation.
When the opening 20 minutes were over, Iowa (16-4, 5-4 Big Ten Conference) led 35-31. Garza led the way with nine points, making 4-of-8 shots. He made only 1-of-10 in the Hawkeyes’ 90-68 loss in East Lansing on Dec. 3. Nicholas Baer came off the bench to add eight points, including a 3-pointer that gave his team its largest lead of the half, 35-29. Iowa also committed only three turnovers while forcing 10.
But Michigan State (18-2, 9-0) made all 11 of its first-half free throws, outscoring Iowa by eight points in an area where the Hawkeyes usually enjoy a large advantage. For the game, the Spartans outscored Iowa 19-6 from the stripe.
Iowa next plays at Minnesota at 4 p.m. Sunday.
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