The Dancing Bear may have secured his team's spot in the Big Dance. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
22 field goals.
When the game clock hit double zeros, Michigan State and Iowa both had those two numbers, and it wasn't the only thing that was pretty similar. The Spartans and Hawkeyes had 12 and 11 assists, respectively. The Fighting Izzos had 15 turnovers and 14 personal fouls to the.... Hawkeyes' 13 turnovers and 16 personal fouls. In many aspects of the game, Iowa played MSU to a draw, and as a result stayed close to the final minutes. The difference maker in the end, at least in terms of points, was the four more free throw makes by the Spartans, which were a symbolic difference between winning and overtime for Izzo and Co (I'm and on fire with these cheesy nicknames!)
The real difference between ugly victory and uglier defeat for MSU was a combination of good defense and an Iowa team that went cold in the closing minutes of the game. Bryce Cartwright and Matt Gattens, who provided early scoring as Iowa kept it close in the first half, did not score for the final 13 minutes of the game, and would finish with a combined 10-25 from the floor. As the Hawkeyes leading scorers faded down the stretch, they got spirited efforts from Melsahn Basabe, Eric May, and Zack McCabe, the latter of which hit a 3-pointer with 1:37 left to pull Iowa within one. From that point on Iowa would miss their last five shots and turn it over twice, while Durrell Summers iced the game with from the charity stripe.
Michigan State was equally ugly in many aspects of the game, including one stretch of five straight turnovers that allowed Iowa to build a small lead, but got big plays down the stretch from Draymond Green and Durrell Summers. Green was the X-factor for MSU's win, as he scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, not to mention 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He provided a great spark offensively in place of Kalin Lucas, who once again got bit with the injury bug in the 2nd half of the game. He managed to stay in the game and finish with 11 points (3-11 shooting), but the pain in his ankle clearly affected his game.
Finally, Durrell Summers, who has been riding a season long shooting slump, stepped up in the final minutes of the game and scored the Spartans' final 7 points on a 3-pointer and 4 free throws, affectively icing the game away after Gattens missed a potential game-tying three with 1 second left.
Iowa gave it their all, but ultimately it was not enough. Michigan State is alive for at least one more game, and the Hawkeyes must now look to improving for the 2011/2012 season.
Michigan State's next opponent will be Purdue in the Quarterfinals, and a win would likely assure them a spot in the NCAA's. Can Sparty keep the dream alive? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
[And again, no time for fun stat tables. I definitely picked the wrong game to cover time-wise. Those will be back for my next preview/ recap.]
If Michigan State loses to Purdue, what are they in?
In.... the NCAA Tournament (20 votes)
In..... the NIT (7 votes)
27 total votes