EAST LANSING, Mich. -- In the up, down and unpredictable world of Big Ten basketball this year, one certainty remains intact.
No. 22 Michigan State continued its dominance of No. 25 Iowa at the Breslin Center, winning 86-76 last night. It was the 18th consecutive home victory by the Spartans over the Hawkeyes, and eighth straight series win.
Yes, Michigan State thumping Iowa is the death and taxes part of Big Ten basketball. This time it was far from a certainty, at least for a half anyway.
The Hawkeyes held a 41-39 lead at halftime and matched the tempo possession for possession. Once the second half started, the Breslin series reverted to its usual form.
Iowa (20-10, 9-8 Big Ten) opened the second half with a blocked shot then committed four consecutive turnovers. Michigan State (23-7, 12-5) took complete advantage, turning all of them into points. The Spartans scored on seven straight possessions after halftime, taking a 53-45 lead with 15:23 left in the game.
"They turned it up on defense and I don't think we made the adjustments to come out in the second half and be successful," Iowa guard Devyn Marble.
"They ratcheted it up in general, which we knew they'd do, and we didn't make the necessary adjustments to handle what they threw at us," Iowa forward Aaron White said.
The Hawkeyes clawed back in contention after their turnover crisis with a jumper and a dunk from White and a pair of Gabe Olaseni free throws. That cut the Spartans' lead to 53-51. Then Michigan State pushed the game into overdrive, and Iowa couldn't keep up. The Spartans began a 13-4 run, highlighted by late 3-pointers from Kenny Kaminski and Travis Trice. Trice scored eight straight points on the run, drilling another 3-pointer and a shot at the buzzer to go ahead 68-55.
Iowa continued to struggle offensively, and the Spartans just sizzled. Michigan State stretched the run to 25-10, aided by a technical foul from Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. Then in a fit of frustration, Iowa's Zach McCabe tossed Trice to the floor while they were locked up at the elbow. McCabe was hit with a technical and fouled out of the game. Coincidentally McCabe tied Roy Marble's school record for games played in an Iowa career.
Marble continued his torrid scoring pace, posting a game-high 24 points. He dished five assists and committed just one turnover in 33 minutes. But Iowa's defense continued its late-season swoon. Michigan State shot 63.6 percent in the second half and 58.3 percent for the game. The Spartans knocked down 58.8 percent from 3-point range (10 of 17).
The first half featured a thunderous pace with the Hawkeyes leading 41-39. Marble scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting and dished three assists. During one stretch he hit jumpers on three consecutive possessions.
Michigan State's Denzel Valentine produced a performance to match Marble. He scored 10 points, dropped seven assists and grabbed five boards in the first half alone. He finished with 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Trice scored 17, and Adreian Payne added 14 points.
The Spartans took a 33-27 lead with 4:20 left in the half after Gary Harris knocked down one of two free throws. Then Iowa took control. Zach McCabe scored on a layup, then pulled down a rebound off a Valentine missed 3-pointer. Marble followed with his own 3-pointer to pull Iowa within 33-32.
Iowa's Josh Oglesby took a steal to the rim and was fouled. He sank both free throws to put Iowa ahead 34-33. Michigan State regained the lead on a Valentine jumper and a Branden Dawson basket. Then McCabe scored again inside and Mike Gesell scored five straight points to push Iowa ahead 41-37.The loss dropped Iowa into a fifth-place tie with Ohio State in Big Ten play. Iowa needs to win Saturday against Illinois and Nebraska needs to lose against Wisconsin or the Hawkeyes to clinch a first-round bye in next week's Big Ten Tournament.