Michigan State won a game they really could not afford to lose if they want to return back to the NCAA Tournament, beating Iowa 85-66 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI. The Spartans move to 17-12 overall and 9-8 in the conference, good for 4th place in the league heading into the final weekend. With the loss, Iowa moved to 10-18 and 3-14 in the Big Ten, which at the moment places them in last place in the league.
Even though much of the fanfare prior to the game was for the departing seniors, mainly Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, it was a freshman, Keith Appling, that lifted the Spartans, especially in the first half. Of Appling's 18 points, 11 came in the 1st half, when Lucas and Summers could not get it going early. Lucas only had 2 points and 3 assists in the first 20 minutes. In the early going, Iowa played extremely confident and did not seem phased by a hostile crowd in East Lansing. The Hawkeyes were led early by Bryce Cartwright with 8 points and 3 assists in the first half and Iowa hung around and trailed 36-32 at the half.
The first few minutes were the second half were sloppy and cagey; Roy Devyn Marble made 2 free throws to cut the lead to 41-37 with 16:23 to go which caused some anxious moments by the Spartan faithful at the Breslin Center. However, Michigan State responded like a tournament team, going on an 11-2 run to go up 52-41. The run was sparked by 3 point shots by Draymond Green and Appling. Iowa flat out struggled from the floor, failing to hit any big perimeter shots and only scoring one basket in the first six minutes of the second half. They missed many open shots that they absolutely needed to hit to get back in the game and failed to make any of their 12 3-point shots.
Iowa tried valiantly to claw back into the game, and even got the score in single digits, trailing 59-50 with a little over 9:30 to go. They were never able to strike much fear into the Spartans and the game became extremely physical, with both teams shooting free throws early and often. Both teams committed 23 fouls and a combined 60 free throws were shot between both teams. The game got out of hand late, which allowed coach Tom Izzo to take out the seniors and give them a sendoff with both Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas kissing midcourt at the Breslin Center, coasting to the final 19 point margin of victory.
After the win, Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor for a massive bubble game against in-state rival Michigan. If the Spartans win and avoid the season sweep, they should be safely in the field of 68. Iowa ends up with a Senior Day home game against Purdue. With a Hawkeye win, any hopes of a Boilermaker share of the Big Ten title would be dashed.