Iowa basketball routs Michigan State on a memorable night with past legends present
For the second straight night, Carver-Hawkeye Arena was the epicenter primetime Big Ten basketball. On Monday, the Iowa women's team notched back-to-back wins over a Top 10 foe Indiana and Tuesday night's finale featured the men's team against traditional power Michigan State.
A sea of gold shirts with 'Garza, 55' filled the arena to full capacity in anticipation of Luka Garza's jersey retirement along with fellow legends Chuck Darling, Roy Marble and Murray Wier. On a night where the arena was buzzing well before tipoff, the Hawkeyes delivered a dominating performance to continue their climb up the conference ladder.
Iowa defeated Michigan State 86-60. The win gave Iowa (19-8, 9-7) sole possession of sixth place in the Big Ten over Michigan State, which fell to 18-9 overall and 9-7 in conference play.
Twelve made three-pointers broke the game open for the Hawkeyes and 11 different players scored at least one basket. Keegan Murray put on another show for the sold out crowd with a game-high 28 points.
A Michigan State basket 13 seconds into game would be the Spartans only lead of the night. Iowa answered with a 13-2 run led by six points by Keegan Murray and culminating with a Tony Perkins and-one that sent a sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd into an uproar. The Hawkeyes continued to ride the momentum of the liveliest home crowd of the season for the remainder of the first half. A flurry of Hawkeye three pointers widened their lead by as many as 15 points as it seemed like they could do no wrong offensively.
In the presence of a two-time national player of the year in Luka Garza, a candidate for this year's award: Keegan Murray continued his dominance over Big Ten teams. Murray connected on five of his first six shots and ended the first half with a game-high 18 points on 70% shooting from the field.
Iowa came out much more disjointed in the second half, a 1-9 start from the field. However, following a technical foul by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo with 15:42 on the clock, 12 points by Jordan Bohannon and Keegan Murray extended their lead to 19 points.
Once again, Iowa put forth a strong defensive effort. They held Michigan State to 13 points below their season average and a 35% field goal percentage compared to their 46% season average. And they held their own in terms of rebounding: a respectable 44-42 advantage.
Several days ago, a disappointing loss to Michigan left a sour taste in Iowa's mouths. Since then they've notched their two biggest wins of the season to further solidify their tournament resume.
They hold a 5-1 record in February and their next two games (at least on paper) set up to continue their good fortunes: at Nebraska on Friday and Feb. 28 against Northwestern, two teams with a combined 37% winning percentage.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at email@example.com.