EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Raymar Morgan had a perfect shooting game but thought the best part of his day was helping coach Tom Izzo get his 300th victory at Michigan State.
After his team grabbed an early 19-point lead, Morgan scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to help the 19th-ranked Spartans beat Iowa 66-52 on Saturday and trigger an emotional post-game salute.
“It’s huge when you can accomplish something like that,” Morgan said. “We’re putting our footprints in the sand in this program.”
Michigan State (22-5, 10-4 Big Ten) put the Hawkeyes away with a 20-1 blitz over the opening 10:20 and never led by less than nine points the rest of the way, six weeks after a humbling 43-36 loss in Iowa City.
“I told the team I slept well for one night,” Izzo said. “I really felt we were ready to play. The loss down there hurt in a lot of ways. And our intensity the first 10 minutes was off the charts.”
“Losing there in January played a big role,” captain Travis Walton said after Iowa missed its first nine shots. “If we hadn’t lost there and at Penn State, we’d be 12-2 right now.”
The Spartans committed just five turnovers, their fewest since March 13, 2004, and 13 fewer than they had in Iowa City. They had 19 turnovers each night in losses at Purdue and Indiana last week.
Drew Neitzel had 12 points and Drew Naymick grabbed eight rebounds for the Spartans, who also answered an 85-76 upset at Penn State three weeks ago with an 86-49 win on Wednesday.
Cyrus Tate led Iowa (12-16, 5-10) with a career-high 26 points and nine rebounds, shooting 10-for-13 from the field and 6-for-7 at the line.
The Hawkeyes rallied to shoot 56.5 percent in the second half but couldn’t cut into a 31-18 halftime lead.
“They’re a tough team to spot 19 points,” Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. “We got some decent looks early but only got one of them. They made sure of that.”
Michigan State won its 20th straight at Breslin Center and moved to 180-22 at home in Izzo’s 13 seasons.
“There’s a reason those guys are ranked where they are,” Lickliter said. “They just made it very difficult. I was afraid we weren’t going to get to double digits at halftime. The day wasn’t a total disaster. But we weren’t good enough to win here, obviously.”
An appreciative sellout crowd, including dozens of former players, stuck around for a tribute to Izzo, who is 300-126 but is 40 victories behind his mentor, Jud Heathcote, on the Spartans’ all-time list. Heathcote was at Michigan State for 19 seasons, including the 1979 national championship.
“I wanted to tell the crowd I still have 600 wins to go to catch (all-time leader) Bobby (Knight),” Izzo said with a smile before adding he might quit at 339 to keep Heathcote No. 1. “The thing that pleased me most was having all the guys come back. More than the wins, I’m happiest that we’ve never backed down from playing a tough schedule.”
Morgan more than did his part, going 6-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line. It was his second straight strong game after a midwinter slump. The only problem was more early foul trouble, limiting him to 6 minutes in the first half.
“I came back in a little upset,” Morgan said. “But when you sit on the bench for a while, you have the advantage of seeing different things.”
Neitzel struggled from the field, going 4-for-15. But he was 3-for-10 from 3-point range and had another strong floor game with five assists and no turnovers.
“It was a pretty special day,” Neitzel said after his next-to-last home game. “The thing we try to project is a family atmosphere. So you shouldn’t be surprised at the turnout and all the emotion.”
Michigan State, the league’s top rebounding team, had a 33-30 edge on the boards, including 17 at the offensive end.
The Spartans need wins over No. 11 Wisconsin on Thursday and No. 15 Indiana on Sunday to have any chance at a share of the regular-season conference title.
“I feel we had a great chance to win there last year after beating them here when they were No. 1,” Walton said of Wisconsin. “We lost that game in the last second. Even though they have a great coach and a great team, I really think we’ll be ready.”