By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team put a scare in the fourth-ranked team in the country Tuesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
But Michigan State survived, defeating the upset-minded Hawkeyes, 96-93, in front of an energized crowd of 11,350. The Spartans shot 56.1 percent and made 24 free throws, including six in the final minute to win their 23rd game of the season.
“I am proud of the way the guys came out and competed tonight,” said sophomore Tyler Cook. “Everybody, regardless of the mistakes we made throughout the game, we played our behinds off. We competed against a great team, so I am proud of that.
“There were a couple of things that we could have done better down the stretch that could have changed the outcome of that game, but I give a lot of credit to that Michigan State team.”
Iowa had a chance to send the game to overtime after Spartan forward Miles Bridges missed two free throws with 3.6 seconds left. Nicholas Baer grabbed the rebound, dribbled to mid-court and heaved a shot that caromed off the front of the rim.
It was an almost for the Hawkeyes, who fall to 12-14 overall and 3-10 in Big Ten play.
“(This game is) a positive,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “It’s a step of what we’re capable of doing. We put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Spartans led 48-42 at the half before extending their lead to nine points early in the second half. Instead of folding, the Hawkeyes showed fight, responding with a 7-0 spurt to close the gap to 55-53.
Iowa went on to take its first lead on an Isaiah Moss free throw with 14:16 remaining before going on to build a seven-point advantage with 8:52 to play. Maishe Dailey’s 3-pointer from the right corner put the Hawkeyes up 81-73 with 8:08 left.
Michigan State answered, closing to 83-81 on a Jaren Jackson, Jr., dunk and 3-pointer with 5:53 to play, but the Hawkeyes countered every Michigan State punch. Cordell Pemsl’s tip-in put Iowa up 85-81 and Jordan Bohannon followed two Spartan free throws with a 3-pointer, making the score 88-83 with 4:24 left.
The Spartans kept coming.
Bridges’ acrobatic layup trimmed the lead to 89-87 with 3:30 remaining before Kenny Goins hit a 3-pointer — his third of the season — that bounced in and around the rim to give the Spartans the lead.
“Goins 3 that bounced around, that’s always a tough one when you have one of those,” said McCaffery. “Especially when it’s not by one of the big scorers.”
Iowa went to Cook, who hit a short jumper, to put the Hawkeyes back up one. The Hawkeye defense got a stop, courtesy of a Baer block on a Cassius Winston layup, but Winston followed suit, swatting a Bohannon 3-point attempt, before Bridges was fouled.
He made both free throws to put Michigan State up 92-91 before Iowa called a timeout with 42.5 seconds left. The Hawkeyes didn’t get the shot they were looking for — or any for that matter — as Moss’ contested attempt didn’t even draw iron.
The Hawkeyes shot 52.2 percent from the field and had five players reach double figures. Cook finished with 26 points, making 11-of-22 field goals, Bohannon gutted his way to 17 points, Dailey had 13, and Pemsl and Moss added 11.
Bridges led a group of four Spartans in double figures with 25 points.
Bohannon played 32 minutes while battling through flu-like symptoms. The guard made 6-of-12 field goals, including five 3-pointers, and had six assists without committing a turnover.
“The first time I came out of the game I was shivering quite a bit and (athletic trainer) Brad (Floy) got some Powerade in me,” said Bohannon. “The breaks got to me quite, but Brad did a good job of keeping me ready for the game. Once I got into the game I didn’t feel much.
“I had the adrenaline going. I tried not to show them any fatigue and I kept working and that’s what our entire team did. We just came up short tonight.”
- Iowa finished the game with 26 assists on its 36 field goals and committed just eight turnovers.
- The Hawkeyes had a 42-38 advantage in points in the paint and the reserves had a 28-19 advantage in bench points.
Iowa returns to action Saturday, traveling to Columbus to face No. 14/16 Ohio State at 5:07 p.m. (CT). The Buckeyes won the first meeting this season, 92-81, on Jan. 4 in Iowa City.
“We got back in the locker room and I told the guys this proves we can play with anyone in the country,” said Bohannon. “I don’t care who is in front of us, we have to have that mindset moving forward that no matter our record or our opponent’s record we can play with anyone.
“This is something we can build on. We have two ranked teams we play in the next two weeks; we just have to be ready.”