Izzo credits Iowa playing how 'veterans should play'

Matt Cozzi

Entering Tuesday's game, Michigan State averaged 81.2 points per game.

The Iowa men's basketball team held the No. 1 Spartans to only 70 points in an 83-70 win Tuesday night in the Big Ten opener in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Iowa (10-3, 1-0 Big Ten) slammed the door on Michigan State (13-1, 0-1) at times, taking advantage of the absence of Denzel Valentine, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury. Valentine leads the Spartans in scoring and rebounding at 18.5 points and 8.3 boards, respectively. Bryn Forbes, who scored 32 points in Michigan's State first game without Valentine last week and averages 14.2, recorded only three points on 1-of-5 shooting Tuesday.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo credited Anthony Clemmons for limiting Forbes, among others. Clemmons scored only two points for the Hawkeyes, but showcased his defensive prowess in 28 minutes of play.

"I told (Iowa coach) Fran (McCaffery) after that his veterans played like how veterans should play," Izzo said. "I thought they played hard. Anthony Clemmons, right from our neck of the woods, did an excellent job on Forbes. He took him to the cleaners and that was a great effort on his part."

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery chats with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo prior to their game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015.

McCaffery agreed.

"(Izzo's) absolutely right," McCaffery said. "You look at this team, they have a lot of weapons. ... Forbes' numbers this year are way better than they have been. He's been more aggressive off the dribble, he's doing a lot. We didn't give him any clean looks, we didn't give them anything in transition, we didn't give them anything easy off down screens because they run a lot of stuff for him."

Valentine's absence mattered, but Iowa holding a 14-point lead at halftime and thus putting the Spartans in a significant hole probably mattered as much if not more.

When a reporter queried Izzo about the loss being the result of playing without the team's top player on the road, Izzo shot back.

"None. Zero. That has nothing to do with the effort you give," Izzo said. "Nothing. That has to do with the plays you make, but nothing to do with the effort you give. I apologize for jumping on you like that, but I'm not good with excuses, so don't make one for me. (The Valentine injury) had something to do with not making baskets, but it had nothing to do with the lack of effort we gave tonight."

Iowa's three losses this year are by a combined 12 points — not many.

The Hawkeyes are a formidable group, making an impression regionally and nationally. Holding the No. 1 team in the nation to 70 points and defeating them by 13 sets the tone for the remainder of the season.

"We had a great, close win against Florida State, too. And Drake. So you want to win them all," McCaffery said. "Certainly you want to win more than you lose in those situations, but I'm proud of my guys."