Iowa (14-11, 6-6) at Michigan State (14-10, 6-5)
Date & Time: February 11th, 5:06 p.m. CT
Location: East Lansing, MI (Breslin Center)
- Iowa is 22-38 on the road in Big Ten games during Fran McCaffery's tenure, including 1-5 this season.
- The Hawkeyes are coming off a tough loss at Minnesota, while the Spartans are coming off a blowout road loss to Michigan.
- Iowa beat the Spartans by 17 in East Lansing last season.
- Chris Street's record of 34 straight made free throws could be in jeopardy as Peter Jok has made his last 25 in a row.
- Michigan State is 4-1 in Big Ten home games this season. Only loss to Purdue.
- Peter Jok had 23 points last season when these teams met in East Lansing.
- Two freshmen average double figures for Michigan State. Miles Bridges (16.2) and Nick Ward (13).
- Both teams share the ball very well. They both average a shade over 17 assists per game.
- Iowa enters this game 6th in the Big Ten standings, Michigan State sits at 5th.
- Peter Jok scored 24 points in the second half on Wednesday night to lead Iowa back from a double digit halftime deficit.
- Michigan State is 2-3 in their last five games.
- Iowa shooting 45% from three in their last four games, while opponents have shot 27%. Spartans shooting 47% from three in their last four games.
- Spartans have won 18 of the last 19 games over Iowa played inside the Breslin Center.
Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon hit some big shots against Minnesota, but had one crucial turnover in his 45 minutes of play - which is extremely impressive. He had to be subbed out late in the game for Christian Williams because he struggled keeping Nate Mason in front of him. He's going to continue to play big minutes because he takes care of the ball and is a threat to go for 20 or more points each night out.
Isaiah Moss (RSFR): Moss showed up big time early on against Minnesota. He finished with 19 points in 24 minutes and shot 7-of-12 from the field. When Moss is on like this obviously Fran McCaffery will play him more, but he has been inconsistent lately, whereas Brady Ellingson has been solid. He's taking a lot of late minutes from Moss.
Peter Jok (SR): Jok was held to just two first half points on Wednesday night, but exploded for 24 in the second half to lead Iowa back into the game and into overtime. He is averaging 20 points per game in the two games since his return and Iowa wouldn't have been in the game if not for Jok on Wednesday night. Iowa probably should've won, but Jok was still brilliant.
Ahmad Wagner (SO): The team is now 8-2 when Wagner starts after the loss to Minnesota. He continues to provide good energy and athleticism for the Hawkeyes. He's averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds for Iowa in the last four games, which is pretty standard for Ahmad.
Tyler Cook (FR): Cook loses a lot of minute late in the game because his lack of rebounding and defensive ability. He is always a threat on offense, but struggles in the other two areas. This will continue to happen until he gets better in those two departments. He's averaging 10 points and 3 boards in the last four ball games.
Nicholas Baer (RSSO): He's averaging just 4.5 points per game over the last four, but is close to 6 rebounds, almost 2 steals, and over 2 blocks per game. He's a do everything guy for Iowa.
Brady Ellingson (RSSO): Ellingson has gotten a lot of minutes late in games over the last few. He's averaging almost 10 points per game and is shooting well over 65% from the three point arc. He's been good on offense and good on defense so expect Brady to continue to see good minutes.
Cordell Pemsl (FR): Pemsl has also been playing late in games recently in place of Tyler Cook. He's a better rebounder and defender and his craftiness on the block makes him a threat to score. Nine points and five boards per game in the last four for Pemsl.
Dom Uhl (JR): Uhl continues to impress me after starting the year slow. It's mostly been with his hustle, as well. He's been consistent from the field, he's rebounding, and he is playing smart. Dom is seeing around 17 minutes per game over the last four and has been a key role player.
Christian Williams (SO): Williams came in late for Bohannon to defend Nate Mason on Wednesday night, but he just doesn't bring what Jordan does as a point guard and on offense. He'll continue to spell Jordan, but that's about it.
Ryan Kriener (FR): Kriener has seen his minutes dwindle over the last three games or so. He struggled against Minnesota and after a few mistakes, did not see the floor again. He was playing really well, but he's just a freshman and he has been playing like one over the last few games.
Michigan State Starters
Lourawls Nairn Jr (JR): He doesn't score much, but does facilitate well. He's averaging over 3.5 assists per game this season for the Spartans. He doesn't shoot much either, but when he does he shoots it well. For the season, he's shooting 45% from the field and 39% from three. If the Hawkeyes are looking for someone to foul late in games, Nairn is their guy. He shoots just 47% at the free throw line. Although Cassius Winston sees a lot of late minutes for the Spartans.
Eron Harris (SR): I figured Harris would have a bigger impact this year for the Spartans with Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine gone, but he's averaging just 11.5 points per game, which is good for third on the team. He gives them an experienced senior leader and a guy that can go off, but is inconsistent. He's scored in double figures in 2 of the last 5 games.
Josh Langford (FR): Langford is a key piece to Michigan State's stellar freshman class, but often gets overlooked due to the two guys below him here. He can shoot the three, but is primarily a role player for the Spartans. He averages 6 points per game, but does shoot 50% from the field and 46% from behind the arc.
Miles Bridges (FR): He's been one of the best freshmen in the country. He missed some time due to injury, but is shining every since coming back. He missed all of December, but has played 30+ minutes in the last 6 games each. He's averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for Tom Izzo. He's a big time athlete that has the potential to stretch the floor as well. He'll be the center of Iowa's defensive game plan for Saturday.
Nick Ward (FR): Nick Ward has been one of the best freshmen in the conference this season. He's a load down low and has really helped solve a lot of front court issues for Michigan State. He averages 13 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 59% from the field for the season. Iowa's bigs will need to be ready for how tough Ward is down low.
Things to Watch
The Spartans have shown some instances where they play like a very young, inexperienced team. They average almost 15 turnovers per game this season after averaging less than 12 per game in the last three seasons each. Right now, the Spartans are 13-4 when they commit less than 15 turnovers per game and they are 1-6 when they commit more than 15 turnovers per game. Iowa's press has the ability to really speed up the Spartans and possibly force some turnovers. Look for Iowa to press early and often to try and use their length and athleticism to turn the Spartans over. Especially when Cassius Winston is manning the point guard position. He turns it over about 3 times per game in Big Ten play.
Defend, Defend, Defend
The Spartans are the leader (B1G Games Only) in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting it at about 48% from the field. They are also second in the conference in three point field goal percentage, shooting over 40% from three. They are your typical Tom Izzo coached team because they get good shots, take good shots, and then make the shots they take. The Spartan defense has been good this year as well, holding opponents to 41% from the field overall and 43% from the field in Big ten play. They've held 13 of their 24 opponents under 40% shooting this season. They are going to defend, so the Hawkeyes are going to have to bring it as well. Getting Peter Jok and Jordan Bohannon going early will be a good way to neutralize the Spartan defense. Don't let them get too comfortable.
He's the best freshman in the conference and one of the best players in the conference. Michigan State was minus him for about a month, but since his return (the last 7 games) he's averaging almost 19 points per game and 8 rebounds as well. He's on pace to be the first freshman to lead the Spartans in scoring since Shawn Respert did it back in 1991-92. He's athletic, he's a good shooter, and he's a high energy guy. Iowa isn't going to be able to stop him, but they must attempt to slow him down. I expect Ahmad Wagner to start on him on Saturday night because of his athleticism. I'd like to see Iowa throw some double teams at him and see how he handles the pressure. He makes them go.
That loss on Wednesday to Minnesota was a heartbreaker for Iowa. They probably should've come away victorious, but instead they left with a loss. Michigan State is coming off being beaten by 29 points by in-state rival, Michigan, so they are out looking for someone to beat up on. They are good at home and Iowa does struggle on the road. It's a good opportunity for Iowa, but I don't think I see them winning a night game in East Lansing. Especially considering the Spartans have won 18 of the last 19 inside the Breslin Center.