Spartans Nearly Perfect In Win Over Iowa

Spartans Nearly Perfect In Win Over Iowa

Basketball

Spartans Nearly Perfect In Win Over Iowa

#10 Michigan State jumped out to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play and is now 7-2 overall after a scintillating performance in all phases of the game in a 90-68 win over #18 Iowa.

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Tom Izzo might find something wrong with Michigan State’s 90-68 victory over #18 Iowa in East Lansing on Monday night – but I don’t know what it would be.

If Michigan State plays like it did on Monday night regularly over the course of the Big Ten slate, the Spartans will have every opportunity to add another Big Ten Championship banner to the crowded rafters of the Breslin Center.

Balance, defense, taking care of the ball, spreading the ball around, efficiency in the paint, focus and intensity from the opening tip – it was all on display Monday night and everyone was in on the act for the Spartans.

However, among all of the important storylines of Monday night, Nick Ward’s performance will be the lasting memory from a night that delivered this team with a glimpse of what’s possible over the long haul this season.

Nick Ward had a phenomenal night and demonstrated that the strong start he’s gotten off to this season may end up being the norm for the Spartan big man.

Ward ended with a career high 26 points on 100% shooting from the field – he was 10 for 10.

Izzo might find room to get after Ward a little bit in looking at his free throw totals since Ward was 6 of 11 from the line.

Perhaps Ward’s locked-in low post defense and final rebound total will offset the free throw total.

Ward worked with Xavier Tillman and Kenny Goins to limit Iowa’s 6’9″ leading scorer coming into the game, Tyler Cook.

Even though Cook finished with 15 points, many came late and were well after Michigan State had taken full control of the game.

Ward’s tough low post defense kept Cook from ever becoming a factor.

And Ward grabbed 9 rebounds – four of them on the offensive glass, five on defense.

Goins continued to show he’s determined to be a weapon all season by beasting his way to 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Joshua Langford and Xavier Tillman each added 14 points.

And Cassius Winston played with force, discipline, and vision all night in scoring 8 points while handing out 12 assists.

The Spartans converted 31 field goals on the night – and the team finished with 28 assists.

Iowa hung tight through most of the first half but when Cassius Winston drained a 3-pointer to extend Michigan State’s lead to 33-26 with 4:27 left in the half, the Spartans never looked back.

Michigan State played sensational defense all over the floor and forced Iowa into finishing the night having shot 32.8% from the field.

When Tillman converted two free throws with 10:20 left to play, Michigan State had built up a 66-36 lead.

The Spartans finished 25 of 32 (78%) from the free throw line.

But what might be the most important stat of the night might be one that is starting to represent a trend.

After the win over Texas and the loss to Louisville in which the Spartans committed a combined total of 41 turnovers, Michigan State has now taken care of the ball exceptionally well in two straight games.

Against Rutgers on Friday night, the Spartans committed a total of 7 turnovers.

In Monday night’s win over Iowa, Michigan State turned it over only 8 times.

Cassius Winston ended the night with one turnover against the Hawkeyes after turning it over zero times at Rutgers.

Just to drive home the point – Cassius Winston has 1 turnover in Michigan State’s first two Big Ten games.

Nick Ward won’t need to be perfect from the field if Winston continues to run the offense with this type of efficiency.

Up next, a trip to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators on Saturday that will complete a very challenging stretch for this team.

If Cassius Winston continues to take care of the ball while handing out assists in the way he has so far this season, Izzo’s team will be 8-2 Saturday evening with every reason to think it can compete for big things over the course of this season.

And Izzo might end up needing to find that room up in those crowded rafters for that additional banner.

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