Iowa gets the monkey off their back as Fran McCaffery's squad knocked off Michigan State at the Breslin Center for the first time since 1993. It wasn't just a sound win, it was an impressive one, 76-59 and controlled the game from the outset.
The Hawkeyes are now 4-0 in Big Ten play and have swept Michigan State and defeated Purdue in West Lafayette.
Peter Jok lead Iowa with 23 points, scoring 19 in the first half. Forward Jarrod Uthoff wasn't as sharp as usual but combined his 15 points with 10 rebounds. Anthony Clemmons (13 points) and Dom Uhl (10 points) also were in double figures.
Here's our five takeaways...
50/50 BALLS/MATCHING INTENSITY
The conversation with Iowa coaches and players leading up to the game dealt with matching the intensity the Spartans would have. They did that and then some. It seemed like the Hawkeyes came up with every 50/50 ball, grabbed all the loose balls, and handled the defensive pressure from Michigan State with a ton of savviness and comfort. They were never rattled and they were the ones that played with more intensity. Michigan State is known for physicality and being tougher than the opponent but that was not the case in either game against Iowa.
WITHOUT GESELL IN FIRST HALF
Another sign of the Iowa toughness was the way they built their comfortable first half lead. They did it without their starting point guard Mike Gesell who is the floor general of the team and always puts his teammates in the right spots. The Hawkeyes lost him to foul trouble early but it did not affect them. Anthony Clemmons played fantastic as the prime point guard on the floor while Peter Jok, Dom Uhl, and Jarrod Uthoff made shots. Even true freshman Christian Williams gave them a solid few minutes with Gesell in foul trouble so that Clemmons could get a breather.
IMPACT OF WOODBURY
I have preached it from the rooftops all season but he does so many good things for Iowa that go unnoticed and that was the case again in this one in East Lansing. Sure, he can drive you crazy sometimes on the offensive end because he's not all that assertive and powerful at times, but he's a fantastic screener on the offensive end and he gives them a great defensive presence close to the basket. He's a terrific post defender and grabbed some critical rebounds against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes are better when he's on the floor.
It has been a theme all year but it was a question mark heading into the season and in the beginning stages. The bench under Fran McCaffery has developed nicely. Between Nicholas Baer, Dom Uhl, Ahmad Wagner, and Brady Ellingson, Iowa has gotten more than enough from their bench. They did once again tonight. It's always important to get significant scoring from at least one guy off the bench and Baer and Uhl have done that many time for the Hawkeyes this season. Tonight it was Uhl and he got it started early when Gesell left the game with foul trouble. He finished with 10 points but his first half production was the difference-maker.
That would be the only gripe of tonight. The closest that Michigan State was able to pull within was 14 points but it could have been more if they had knocked down more open shots. But it really wasn't about lapses on the defensive end. The offense seemed to stall for a handful of possessions and they weren't all that sharp from the free throw line, either. This would be the only concern to take away from tonight's win, especially after what had already happened earlier in the season in Ames.