The Iowa Hawkeyes entered Saturday's game with Michigan State in a position that many fans and critics thought would not have been possible. After a troublesome off-season, Iowa was predicted to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten Conference, as this season was supposed to be one of disappointment. However, the Hawkeyes are out to prove those disbelievers wrong, and with their 68-64 win over #20 Michigan State they made another huge stride to accomplished that feat.
6-7 junior forward Glen Worley got things rolling early for the Hawkeyes, as he was clicking on cylinders from the opening jump ball. Worley scored six early points, as he helped the Hawkeyes jump out to a 12-6 lead with 15:18 remaining in the first half.
As the Spartans struggled shooting from the floor in the first half, Worley continued his offensive outburst, as scored his fourteenth point when he completed a three point play stretching Iowa's lead to 11 points at 20-9 with 12:51 remaining.
Late in the first half, Iowa began to struggle on the offensive end, while Michigan State finally found their shooting touch, and closed the gap on the Hawkeyes down to four points at 31-27. Michigan State used a 16-7 run over a four minute period to get themselves right back into the game.
However, Iowa would withstand the challenge from the Spartans and use a 8-3 run of their own in the final 3:21 to take a well earned 39-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Hawkeyes came out in the second half much like they did to start the game – get Glen Worley the ball. Worley drained a three pointer from the corner to give Iowa a 44-39 lead. On the Hawkeyes very next possession down the court, Worley would strike again, as he nailed his second consecutive three pointer to put Iowa up 47-41 with 14:05 left in the game.
Iowa would increase their lead to eight points when 6-3 freshman point guard Jeff Horner threw a no look half court pass to a streaking Sean Sonderleiter. The 6-9 junior center brought the Iowa faithful to their feet with an open court monstrous dunk, giving the Hawkeyes a 51-43 lead.
Michigan State would once again make a run at the Hawkeyes, but Worley was there to drop another dagger in the heart of the Spartans, as he drilled his fourth three pointer of the game, giving the Hawkeyes a 57-49 lead with 8:05 remaining.
Iowa went up 60-52 with 5:45 remaining in the game, when Worley once again burnt the Spartans when he scored on a pass down low from 6-7 freshman combo forward Greg Brunner.
6-3 sophomore guard Chris Hill would cap off an 8-0 Michigan State run, when he hit his sixth three of the game tieing the score at 60-60 with 2:17 remaining.
The Spartans would strike again, this time on the defensive end, as 6-4 sophomore guard Kelvin Torbert stole a pass from 6-11 junior center Jared Reiner, drove the length of the court and was fouled. Torbert would make one out of two free throws, giving the Spartans their first lead since early in the first half, at 61-60 with 1:50 remaining in the game.
However, the Hawkeyes were not about to buckle under the pressure, as Horner would tie the game at 61-61 on Iowa next possession after hitting one out of two free throws.
With under a minute remaining, Iowa's defense came up huge, as 5-11 junior guard Brody Boyd stripped Hill while he was attempting to get a shot off. Boyd drove the length of the court, and was fouled while going strong to the basket. Boyd would make the most out of his opportunity, as he hit both free throws putting the Hawkeyes up 63-61 with just :57.8 seconds remaining.
After two missed three pointers by 6-9 senior forward Adam Ballinger, 6-6 sophomore guard Alan Anderson gathered the offensive rebound and was fouled while attempting a shot. Anderson, an 83% free throw shooter on the season, missed both free throws and the Spartans were forced to foul.
Reiner, who was fouled after rebounding the missed free throw, stepped to the line and calmly knocked down both free throws giving the Hawkeyes a 65-61 lead.
Iowa, who went 1-6 from the free throw line in the final minute of the win at Northwestern on Wednesday night, learned their lesson and successfully made 5-6 free throws in the final minute of today's game, helping them withstand a late three pointer by Ballinger, and would hold off the 20th ranked Spartans 68-64.
The Hawkeyes were led in scoring by Worley's career high 29 points. 6-1 senior guard Chauncey Leslie chipped in with 11 points, and Horner added nine points and six assists. Brunner led the Hawkeyes in rebounding with a game high nine rebounds.
This was Iowa's first win at home against a ranked opponent since they defeated Illinois 78-62 back in January of the 2000-01 season.
Iowa will be in action again on Wednesday night as they host #10 ranked Illinois (12-1, 2-0), in a battle of the two top teams in the Big Ten standings.