Xavier Tillman's Outstanding Play Leads Spartans Past Iowa
Hondo S. Carpenter
The No. 24 Michigan State Spartans came home to East Lansing tonight and came out on top dropping No. 20 Iowa 78-70. The win improves the men in green’s season record and conference record to 19-9 (11-5). With the win, the Spartans took over second place in the Big Ten.
No matter the team you rooted for, it was a great basketball game. Well played on both sides, this was an instant classic. A true thriller.
The Spartans had three players score in double-digits. The Spartans were led by Mark ROCKET Watts who had 21 points. Cassius Winston had 20 points and nine assists and finally Aaron Henry dropped in 15 points and picked up six rebounds.
Tom Izzo said of the contest, "I am worn out. That was a tough game. Worn out so much I think I will sleep here tonight. Iowa played their tail off. Hard game to play, hard game to officiate and I give Aaron Henry credit. I thought he was our best all-around player." But the player of the game was Xavier Tillman. If he isn't one of the best defenders in this league I do not know who is."
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the contest, "He (Winston) hit a couple of shots early (in the second half) and it created opportunities for others too. It was kind of what everyone thought it would be with atmosphere and intensity and we really handled all of those things outside of the final few minutes. You can't come down the stretch and turnover it over, especially not here."
The men in the green lost the battle of the boards to the Hawkeyes by a margin of 40-32. The Spartans had an improved 11 turnovers.
The Spartan defense allowed Iowa to shoot 40% from the field and 22% from three.
Izzo added, "That was the most physical game we have played since the Gene Keady days. All in all our crowd might have helped win us the game."
The Hawkeyes had the lead in the 40 minutes of the game for 27:32. The Spartans led for 7:59. In all Tom Izzo played 11 players. Nine of them scored.
Izzo’s men had 19 assists on 27 baskets. The Spartans shot 35% from three, 50% from the field and an abysmal 74% from the charity stripe.
The team will return to the hard-court Saturday, February 29, 2020, in College Park, Maryland at the Terrapins. They will be taking on the No. 8 Maryland. It can be seen on ESPN2 at /:00 PM ET.
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