Written by Sean Merriman
If this yearâ€™s Michigan State Basketball team has taught us anything, that is that playing at home is vital for success. This coming in a cluttered big ten conference that could potentially send seven teams to this years NCAA tournament.
On Tuesday night the Iowa Hawkeyes took benefit to their home court advantage as they trounced the visiting Spartans by a score of 66-52. The Hawkeyes set a school record with the 16th consecutive victory at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Seniors Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner each had 15 points as Iowa took a huge step toward their first big ten title in over 3 decades.
With rumors floating around about Iowa coach Steve Alford possibly being the next coach at Indiana, the Hawkeyes players showed that they were not fazed one bit.
â€œItâ€™s a tremendous win for our program,â€ said Alford. â€œWe are in the midst of a special journey.â€
The Spartans on the other hand, took a big step backwards in the big ten standings. They have now dropped to 6-5 in conference play and face a tough stretch of games before heading into the big ten tournament.
Senior Paul Davis was about the only bright spot for the Spartans as he led all scorers with 17 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds. However, just like recent games, Davisâ€™s playing time was plagued by early foul trouble.
MSU committed seven fouls in the first seven minuets of the game, yet they managed to keep the game close for much of the first half. Both teams struggled offensively as they combined for 22 turnovers and 2-16 three point shooting leading to a four-point halftime advantage for Iowa.
The Spartans went on a 10-4 run to open the second half but sloppy passing and Iowaâ€™s quick transition game were too much for Tom Izzoâ€™s club.
Michigan State leading scorers Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown combined for just 21 points, nearly 18 below their combined average. On top of that, the Spartans turned the ball over 18 times, which led to numerous Iowa fast break opportunities.
â€œI donâ€™t care who your playing, they lead directly to baskets,â€ said Ager of MSUâ€™s turnover troubles.
For Iowa, this was their 6th win in 7 games as they sit in sole first place in the big ten standings.
The loss for Michigan State has dropped them into the middle of the pact of the big ten and leaves a struggling Spartan team wondering where their confidence and winning swagger has gone.
â€œIâ€™m disappointed right now, we cant seem to find the basket with anything,â€ said Izzo. â€œIâ€™m sure weâ€™ve lost some confidence and were going to have to work through it.â€
The Spartans schedule doesnâ€™t get any easier as they have 5 games left, all against opponents who were ranked at one time during this season. Luckily for the Spartans, four of those five games are at home where the Spartans are undefeated this far. If the trend of home court advantages continues, the Spartans should be in good shape come tournament time.
Michigan State will host in state rival Michigan at 4:00 on Saturday afternoon.