The No. 4 Michigan State Spartans figured to have revenge on their minds Thursday night against the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes after the Hawkeyes downed the previously top-ranked Spartans on Dec. 29, but head coach Tom Izzo's squad fell, 76-59, at the Breslin Student Events Center.
According to the Lansing State Journal's Chris Solari, Thursday's win snapped Iowa's 18-game losing streak in East Lansing and marked the team's first victory at the Breslin Center since 1993.
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein spoke highly of Iowa following the Big Ten clash:
Iowa is a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten regular season title. Hawkeyes dominate Michigan State in East Lansing. 4-0 in Big Ten play.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 15, 2016
Guard Peter Jok led Iowa with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 from three-point range), while forward Jarrod Uthoff poured in 15 points (5-of-17 shooting, 3-of-7 from three) and grabbed 10 rebounds.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla broke down the traits that make the stretch big man a compelling talent:
NBA scouts like Jarrod Uthoff more than the draft bloggers do. Combination of Steal/Block Rates, 6-11 wingspan, deep shooting.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 15, 2016
The Hawkeyes also received 10 points from Dom Uhl off the bench and eight points and six assists from guard Mike Gesell on a night when the Hawkeyes bested the Spartans in seemingly every area.
ESPN College Basketball on Twitter offered a glimpse at how Iowa scorched Michigan State from beyond the arc:
Iowa was hot from behind the arc. pic.twitter.com/92Zz1ys19W— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) January 15, 2016
Iowa owned the first half as it built a 22-point lead by intermission thanks to pesky defense and brilliant shooting from beyond the arc. Throughout the game's first 20 minutes, Iowa shot 9-of-15 from three and forced 14 Michigan State turnovers.
Citing Stats, the Associated Press' Larry Lage noted Thursday was the first time Michigan State trailed by at least 22 points at halftime since the 1996-97 season.
ESPN Stats & Info explained how the Hawkeyes built a lead that allowed them to coast through the second half:
Iowa with 15 points off of 12 Michigan State turnovers. That’s already more than Michigan State allows per game (11.1).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 15, 2016
Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press indicated no opponent had outplayed Michigan State that severely in over a decade:
This is similar to Duke's visit to MSU in 2003. Turnovers, bad shots, over-helping = mental breakdowns for MSU. And Iowa is for real.— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) January 15, 2016
Although the Spartans were without star senior Denzel Valentine in the 13-point loss last month, his presence wasn't enough to help Michigan State overcome the large deficit against a disciplined Iowa team Thursday.
Michigan State shot just 41.8 percent from the field and 19.0 percent from three, as Valentine (14 points) and Matt Costello (15 points) were the only Spartans players to finish in double figures. Iowa also bested MSU 13-6 on the offensive glass.
Michigan State had rebounded from its first loss to Iowa with three straight wins, but Thursday night's defeat represents a setback for a Spartans team that has flashed plenty of national title potential throughout the season.
The Spartans' next big test will come Jan. 23 against No. 3 Maryland, when Michigan State will have a chance to reassert itself as the class of the Big Ten. But for the time being, Izzo's club needs to hope opponents can't replicate the successful formula Iowa has employed against it in recent weeks.
Speaking of the Hawkeyes, they're primed for another move up the polls after capturing their fourth win over a ranked opponent this season and their second in the past two weeks.
As Yahoo Sports' Brad Evans explained, Iowa's looking formidable these days:
Iowa's experience, length, rainmaking ability and stout D should have college hoops world on notice. Contender. Only Ls: Dayton, ND, Iowa St— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) January 15, 2016
A physical team that prides itself on solid defensive rotations and gang rebounding, Iowa has established itself as one of the nation's most fundamentally sound units during a breakout season. As long as the Hawkeyes shooters can stay hot in March, Iowa figures to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament.
CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg put Iowa’s win in perspective, while ESPN Stats & Info provided some historical context regarding the upset:
Iowa beats Michigan State 76-59, becoming the 1st team since Duke and Kentucky in 1965 to beat the same top-5 opp. by 10 in same season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 15, 2016
"To beat one of the best teams in the Big Ten on their home court is big," Uthoff said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "It doesn't matter what happened 23 years ago."
Predictably, Izzo wasn’t pleased with the loss. Now, changes are coming, per MLive.com’s Kyle Austin:
Izzo says the starting lineup will be changing before next game. Says he wants to find guys that will compete— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) January 15, 2016
"The tougher team won,” Izzo said, per Austin. “That's usually what happens."