The Takeaways: Better At The Breslin, But It's Not Good Enough
The Breslin Center has been a place that has haunted Iowa over the years.
Not that many teams have had luck in there, but the Hawkeyes came into Tuesday's game at Michigan State having won just three of the previous 25 games there.
They couldn't get the fourth win, but the 78-70 loss was nothing like some of the previous nightmares.
The Hawkeyes (19-9 overall, 10-7 Big Ten) led for almost 27 1/2 minutes. They led 10 points early in the second half before Cassius Winston and the Spartans (19-9, 11-6) took over.
Winston had 19 of his 20 points in the second half, adding nine assists for the game, as Michigan State pulled away in the closing minutes.
The Hawkeyes got 20 points and nine rebounds from Luka Garza, his 13th consecutive Big Ten game of 20 points or more, tying the school mark set by Fred Brown in 1971.
Garza played 39 1/2 minutes.
Ryan Kriener, out for most of the first half with foul trouble, finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes. It was his third consecutive double-digit scoring game.
The Hawkeyes fell out of the second-place tie in the Big Ten, but get their next two at home. They'll need to win both to keep in the running for the double-bye in the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa got just four points on 1-of-8 shooting from Joe Wieskamp, the Hawkeyes' second leading scorer.
Wieskamp was 0-of-5 in three-pointers. He is 6-of-27 from the field in his last three games, 1-of-12 in three-pointers.
As coach Fran McCaffery noted after the game, everyone is going to be double-teaming Garza for the rest of the season. That kind of defense won't be effective if others stepped up, something that Wieskamp has done this season.
If there was one good sign, McCaffery said, it was that Wieskamp wasn't hunting shots, and was still effective in other phases of the game.
The Hawkeyes will need his scoring to come back.
The (eventual) return of Fredrick
It will be important for Iowa to get CJ Fredrick back.
The redshirt freshman guard missed his third consecutive game with an ankle injury, and with Wieskamp struggling, another outside shooter would help.
Iowa has gone 2-1 in Fredrick's absence. Kriener, taking Fredrick's spot in the starting lineup, had another solid game. Bakari Evelyn came off the bench to score nine points — he has scored 33 points in the last three games.
Fredrick is expected back for Saturday's game with Penn State, but it's been good for the Hawkeyes to get contributions with him out.
"I think, in that situation, you want others to step up," McCaffery said. "I think CJ will be ready Saturday. But he hasn't been cleared yet."
Connor steps up
Connor McCaffery had another box-score stuffing night for the Hawkeyes.
McCaffery had 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, and in 38:19 had seven assists and zero turnovers.
He's been steady all season, and the Hawkeyes will need that in the closing weeks.
Don't let one loss turn into two
The Hawkeyes have lost back-to-back games only once this season. That came in early January, when they followed an 89-86 loss to Penn State in the steamy Palestra in Philadelphia with a 76-70 defeat at Nebraska.
This game was a grinder for the Hawkeyes. Garza and Connor McCaffery barely sat out, and Wieskamp played 34 minutes. With a second matchup against Penn State looming in a late-morning game on Saturday, the Hawkeyes will need to be recharged.
By the numbers
• Iowa outrebounded the Spartans, 40-32.
• Michigan State had 24 fast-break points. The Hawkeyes had zero.
• Garza drew seven fouls in the game.