Tough week ends in Iowa for Spartans

Playing two Big Ten conference basketball games a week can be downright brutal. Playing two games, with only one day of rest in between, just doesn't seem right. But it's something the No. 25 Spartans are familiar with.

(East Lansing) – Playing two Big Ten conference basketball games a week can be downright brutal. Playing two games, with only one day of rest in between, just doesn’t seem right. But it’s something the No. 25 Spartans are familiar with.

Just two weeks ago the Spartans (9-4 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) blew by Jacksonville State 76-52 and two days later fell to Toledo 81-76.

This time a split won’t do it in the Big Ten, where every game is crucial.

Following Thursday night’s 66-55 win over the Buckeyes at the Breslin Center, the No. 25 Spartans must travel to Iowa City, Iowa for a Saturday matinee with the Hawkeyes (9-3, 1-0).

When you break that down that’s two games in a little more than 43 hours.

MSU head coach Tom Izzo said it’s definitely going to be a factor early in the season, but remains optimistic.

"We have a tough week, with a one-day turnaround between Ohio State on Thursday and at Iowa on Saturday afternoon," Izzo said. "So it will be a good start hopefully to the Big Ten season."

Iowa will have an extra day of rest following a 68-63 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday in its Big Ten opener. The Hawkeyes have opened the season with a 9-3 record and maybe considered a sleeper in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes are one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten. Iowa has eight juniors or seniors on its 10-man roster. However, the Hawkeyes did lose two valuable offensive weapons in Luke Recker and Reggie Evans, but Izzo thinks they have found other ways to compete.

"Iowa might be a team that last year they too were a very very good offensive team," he said. "This year they’re one of the better defensive teams and their playing better."

"I get to give a lot of credit to Steve (Alford) because he went through some tough times in the offseason, but that team is playing better."

Iowa is fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 60.7 points per game. Iowa is also second in rebounding margin behind MSU. But MSU in their last outing were out rebounded 34-29 by the Buckeyes, while only picking up six offensive rebound to Ohio State’s 16.

If this trend continues, it could bode well for Iowa.

Iowa boasts the league’s second-leading rebounder in 6-11 center Jared Reiner, who is pulling down 9.4 rebounds per game. Not only that, Reiner and forward Greg Brunner are both averaging close to three offensive rebounds per game.

The Hawkeyes are led offensively by guard Chauncey Leslie, who is averaging 17 ppg. Iowa’s second leading scorer is forward Glen Worley, who averages 12.3 points and 5.5 rpg.

The Spartans will also have to pay close attention to Jeff Horner, who likes to shoot from long-range. The 6-foot-3 freshman has already attempted 66 three-point shots, connecting on 35 percent of them.

Iowa also has a nice bench to compliment their starters. Brody Boyd another free-shooter averages 8.6 ppg and forward Sean Sonderleiter, another big body in the paint, averages 7 ppg and 4.1 rpg in 17 minutes of action.

The Spartans on Thursday showed that they are one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country, but they’ll have to be ready for an aggressive Iowa team looking to make some noise in the Big Ten.

Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

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