EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan had added incentive for a big victory on Saturday.
Their Michigan State teammates were motivated, too, in an 81-49 win over tired Iowa that will bolster its NCAA Tournament resume.
Neitzel scored 17 points and Morgan had 16 as the Spartans shot 58 percent from the field and built a 40-point lead in the second half.
“I think you saw a game where we put a lot of things together,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “But let’s not kid ourselves. Iowa had a Thursday-Saturday deal, and that’s tough this time of year.”
The Spartans (19-8, 6-6) blew the game open with an 18-0 first-half run. They made 65 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes and led 44-17 at halftime.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a very good performance by us,” Steve Alford said of the worst loss in his eight seasons coaching the Hawkeyes. “We looked beat-up. And Michigan State played a heck of a game. It had a lot more energy than we did.”
Neitzel, with more energy than anyone, had eight points in 1:20 of the Spartans’ sprint to a 21-4 lead.
“I was really pumped,” Neitzel said after going 5-for-10 from 3-point range. “I hit my first couple of shots, and everyone seemed to feed off that. But I wanted to dedicate this game to my buddy. He would’ve liked it.”
A close friend and workout partner, Adam Visser, died Thursday of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Morgan was sidelined with a stress reaction in his ankle when Iowa beat Michigan State 62-60 in their Big Ten opener. But with a big second half Tuesday against Michigan and 7-for-10 shooting and four steals Saturday, it was a week any freshman would remember.
“He’s really talented,” Alford said. “I’m not going to make light of our win at home, with or without him. But the kid can really play. He had a very special game and was a hard matchup for us.”
Maurice Joseph added 12 points, Goran Suton had 10 points and eight rebounds before fouling out, and Travis Walton added nine points and 10 assists for Michigan State.
Adam Haluska, the league’s leading scorer at 21.2 points per game, scored 11 points to lead Iowa (15-12, 7-6). He was 3-for-14 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
The Hawkeyes shot 25 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, when the Spartans had one more 3-point basket than Iowa had field goals.
Michigan State had an 18-7 edge in assists and a 36-23 advantage in rebounds, to the delight of the returnees from its 1957 and 1959 Big Ten titlists in observance of the 50th anniversary of its first Final Four appearance.
But it didn’t take long for the Spartans to begin thinking of Tuesday’s home game against No. 3 Wisconsin, their first of two late-season matchups with the Badgers.
The Hawkeyes, who were sluggish just 42 hours after a snow-postponed win over Northwestern, said they will try to forget Saturday and concentrate on pivotal matchups with Purdue and Illinois before postseason play.