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You Got Punk'd: Iowa Hawkeyes 83, Michigan State 70

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Queue the Ashton Kutcher Highlights!

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Can a person possibly have all of the holiday and sports feels at one time because after last night, I can't contain my corn fed cheer. Like I mentioned on Sunday, Fran McCaffery has not beaten those pesky Spartans since the 2010-11 season; so I have not seen Tom Izzo completely lose his marbles against the Hawkeyes since I graduated and left Iowa City. That is fair too long.

But, that is all over now, as the now 10-3 Iowa Hawkeyes kicked the undefeated (and Valentine-less) Spartans into a long, stone-walled wishing well/Game of Thrones Sky Window.

THIS IS IOWA CITY!

The effort from McCaffery's team was absolutely astounding throughout the entirety of last nights tilt. A knock out performance that I've been churning for since Uthoff was eligible to play:

  • Four players in double figures: Peter Jok had 19, Uthoff had 10, Nicholas Baer had 10 and Mike Gesell, the demigod, poured in 25 of his own.
  • Iowa shot 48.2% from the field, 46.2 % from long distance (6-13) and 74.2% from the free throw line (going to the line 31 times... something that I'm sure drove Izzo absolutely nuts).
  • The Hawkeyes blocked 11 of Michigan State's shots (six coming from Jarrod Uthoff).
  • Iowa NEVER trailed in this game. NEVER. They also led by as much as 19 points.
  • This was the first win over a No. 1 ranked team since 1999, when the Hawkeyes beat UConn. This was also Iowa's first win over the best team in the country in front of a home crowd.
  • This loss was so devastating for the Spartans that Izzo actually said, "It was one of the rare times in my career I thought we got, for a lack of a better choice of words, punked." PUNKED! IOWA PUNKED SPARTA!
I still can't believe it. We -- I paid a lot of money to that school -- made Tom Izzo crack. Well, we and the lack of effort the Spartans seemed to play with last night. Whether it was Iowa's defensive intensity or just an off night for the Spartans can be debated elsewhere, but for a team that normally assists on 77% of their made buckets (which leads the conference) to only assist on 40% of their made buckets is eye opening. There was a lot of mano-a-mano from the Spartans, and whatever cohesion was there to begin with all but disappeared as Iowa's lead escalated.

Regardless, that was not the same Spartans team that we've seen and surely won't be the one we see the remainder of the season.

But in Iowa's case, it was yet another example of what this Iowa team can be when the wheels are greased up and the engine is ready to go 0-to-60 in four seconds. While this team still needs Uthoff and his ever-impressive offensive game that continues to be one of the biggest match up problems in the Big Ten, it's not the end all be all like other seasons with the likes of Matt Gatens, Devyn Marble or Aaron White. Throughout McCaffery's nine-to-ten man rotation, there are a plethora of weapons at his fingertips and they all performed well last night after Uthoff picked up two quick fouls.

It also helps that Iowa's home cookin' is a major factor with this team. You're not coming into Iowa City and resting easy before the jump. Way before the sell out crowd was even thinking about storming the court, I honestly thought the beams above Carver Hawkeye Arena were going to slam through the roof after your favorite walk-on's favorite walk-on Nicholas Baer buried a LONG three to extend Iowa's lead to seven; which was then followed up by Ahmad Wagner who came from the weak side of the defense to block a wimpy Eron Harris layup into oblivion.

Maybe Iowa is heaven after all because things are just going way too right for the university right now when it comes to it's sports teams.

In terms of individual performances, what more can someone say about Peter Jok at this point in the season? He's the perfect weak side deep ball threat to Uthoff's strong side post ups and his scoring prowess has gotten better and better. He's not just a jump shooter anymore. He knows that opposing defenses are going to bend to get a hand in his face when he's hovering around the arch, so he's utilized a pretty solid dribble-drive attack -- doubling his free throw attempts per game from last season (Jok only shot six or more free throws in one contest last year. He has three such games so far this year).

Every game seems to show a little more of what Jok can when on the court. You can see the pieces fitting in together. I'm beyond tickled that this kid is in yellow right now.

Jok was brilliant offensively, but the star of the game, once again, was the senior point guard Mike Gesell. What a second half, where the Sioux City native scored 21 of his 25 total points. He shredded the inner workings of the Spartan defense play after play after play. Seriously, it was open heart surgery. He scored eight points off of layups and eleven more came from the free throw line hopefully ending any future Hack-a-Shaq late in the game plans on the senior.

Gesell has been the most versatile player on the roster thus far. He's been both the hero Iowa deserves and the hero Iowa needs more times than I can count already and we are one game into the Big Ten slate. There seems to be a switch that flips on once Uthoff heads to the bench either due to rest or foul trouble. He defers from his natural play making, point guard roll and becomes a big scoring threat.

And it works more often than it doesn't. It's almost as if the defenses keep forgetting that he's out there and that he's a very gifted and sneaky ball handler and passable finisher at the bucket.

Which was the exact case last night. Gesell punished the Spartans. He finished at the rack and when he got hacked, converted the freebies. Whether it was Eron Harris or Tum Tum Nairn, neither could keep Gesell in front of them; consistently giving up the middle, something Izzo teams just don't do.

This was Iowa's most complete end-to-end game of the season and way more impressive than their blow out wins against Marquette and Wichita State, even with Denzel Valentine still on the sidelines. It's the type of game I've been begging of Iowa for a long time now; a contest within which they throw their opponent in a pressure cooker and don't let them wither out until the meat is fully cooked and tender.

The rematch in East Lansing on January 14th -- with a healthy Valentine -- can't come soon enough.

Go. Iowa. Awesome.

One last quick note, I think I speak for all of BTPowerhouse when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with the Izzo family after Monday's news that Tom Izzo's father, Carl, passed away at 90. God speed.