The Spartans, undefeated through 13 non-conference games, saw their perfect season end on the first night of conference play.
Michigan State is undefeated no more thanks to a huge night for Iowa on Tuesday in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes knocking off the Spartans by a score of 83-70.
Mike Gesell scored 25 points, Peter Jok had 19, Nicholas Baer had 11 and Jarrod Uthoff scored 10, with the Hawkeyes leading by as many as 19 in a red-hot second half where Iowa shot a staggering 63.6 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, playing for the second straight game without injured star Denzel Valentine, the Spartans struggled on the offensive end during long stretches.
Iowa was terrific in the first half as Michigan State had little going on offense. Uthoff had to sit early with a couple of fouls, but Iowa reserves Baer and Dom Uhl combined for 16 points in the opening 20 minutes. But it was Michigan State’s offensive drought that allowed Iowa to build its lead. It was a four-point game after a Bryn Forbes bucket around the midway point of the half, but the Spartans went scoreless for nearly six minutes, while the Hawkeyes went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 14. Iowa out-scored Michigan State, 16-6, over the final 10 minutes of the first half.
The Hawkeyes hit four 3-pointers as the Spartans hit none in the first half. Iowa turned 11 Michigan State turnovers into 12 points, and had a 17-6 advantage in bench points.
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Fourteen was the Iowa lead at the break, and the Hawkeyes kept the offense humming. The lead never dipped below double digits during the final 20 minutes. After three minutes, the edge was 11, but Iowa burst out on a 15-7 run over the next six minutes, capped by a pair of Jok triples that boosted the lead to a game-high 19. From there, Gesell, Uthoff and Adam Woodbury seemed to have an answer for every Michigan State bucket. The Spartans got it down to 10 at one point, but six straight Hawkeyes points had it back out to 16 in a blink as Iowa held on for a signature win.
Michigan State didn't shoot all that poorly at 42.2 percent from the field, not that much worse than Iowa's 48.2-percent mark for the game. But the long stretches of offensive ineffectiveness crippled the Spartans, particularly while playing without a go-to scorer in Valentine. Michigan State missed 10 3-point attempts and seven free throws. Eron Harris finished with a team-high 21 points, and Matt Costello scored 17 points. Forbes scored just three points and took only five shots on the night.
It was a heck of a way to kick off conference play for Iowa, which suffered just three non-conference losses to more-than-respectable opposition in Iowa State, Notre Dame and Dayton. But a signature victory over the nation's No. 1 team should vault the Hawkeyes into the top 25 in next week's polls. It was Iowa's first win over a No. 1 team since 1999. The Hawkeyes improved to 10-3 with the win and will face another top-15 team in Purdue this weekend.
Michigan State dropped to 13-1 with the loss. Next up for the Spartans is a date with Minnesota on Saturday.