The best team in the Big Ten right now? No, it's not either of the teams ranked in the top four in the country.
No team in the conference looks better than Iowa, which bolstered that argument Thursday night with a 76-59 beatdown of Michigan State in East Lansing, the Hawkeyes' second win over the Spartans this season.
Denzel Valentine hit a 3-pointer to open the game and Eron Harris had a thunderous first-half dunk, but aside from that it was all Iowa in the first 20 minutes. The Hawkeyes had a 22-point lead at the break after shooting 51.5 percent and hitting nine 3s in the first half. Iowa had a small 12-11 lead four minutes in, but the Hawkeyes exploded from there, outscoring Michigan State, 24-8, over the next 10 and a half minutes.
Peter Jok was 6-for-8 from the field, 3-for-3 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line for 19 first-half points. Dom Uhl had 10 points at the break, meaning those two outscored the Spartans by four points by themselves. Michigan State also turned the ball over 14 times in the first 20 minutes, leading to 17 Iowa points.
The Hawkeyes shot pretty poorly after halftime, just 34.4 percent from the field and hitting just one triple. The Spartans turned the ball over just twice after halftime, leading to no more Iowa points. But the damage was already done, and Michigan State could only chip into the massive halftime lead by five points by game's end.
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Jok ended with 23 points to lead all scorers. Jarrod Uthoff had 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, Anthony Clemmons had 13 points, Uhl finished with 10 points and Mike Gesell had eight points and six assists.
Matt Costello led Michigan State with 15 points, coming a board away from a double-double with nine rebounds. Valentine had 14 points, while Bryn Forbes was 0-for-5 from the field and scored just two points on the night.
The win boosted Iowa to 13-3 on the season and a perfect 4-0 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes join the Indiana Hoosiers as the only undefeated teams during conference play. With a pair of victories over Michigan State, one on the road, and an away win over Purdue, no team looks as good as Iowa right now. Next up for the Hawkeyes is a Sunday game against Michigan.
Michigan State dropped to 16-2 overall and 3-2 in league play with the loss, both its defeats coming against Iowa. Currently ranked fourth in the AP poll, the Spartans become the latest highly ranked team to lose this week. No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 9 Duke, No. 17 Iowa State and No. 19 South Carolina have all fallen since the most recent poll was released Monday afternoon. Next up for Sparty is a Sunday trip to Wisconsin.