izzo.jpg
USATSI

Michigan State suffered its most lopsided home loss of the Tom Izzo era on Saturday, snapping its two-game winning streak in an 88-58 shellacking at the hands of No. 15 Iowa. The 30-point margin of defeat is the largest loss at home since 1975 when it fell to then-No. 1 Indiana 107-55. 

“I’m embarrassed,” Izzo said after the game. “I didn’t see it coming necessarily. But that’s my job, so I was disappointed. I give a lot of credit to Iowa because they shot the ball so well.”

The two teams met 11 days ago on Iowa’s home court, and it was a much different battle. The Hawkeyes prevailed then, too, 84-78. But it was a hard-fought game they won in the trenches by riding Player of the Year frontrunner Luka Garza, who finished with 27 points and 12 boards.

In Saturday’s game, Michigan State game-planned to limit Garza and had some success — he finished with a season-low eight points — but Iowa’s other pieces on the perimeter picked up the slack.

“We were picking our poison,” said Izzo. “We were going to do a better job on Garza, which I guess in some ways we did a better job on Garza. But I warned you guys and myself that you don’t want to be taking away the 2 and give up 3s.”

That was more or less the costly trade-off Sparty wound up making. Iowa went 13-of-25 from the 3-point line. Joe Wieskamp scored a game-high 21 points and accounted for five of them. And Connor McCaffery, shooting below 30% from deep on the season, drilled four. Three others made at least one.

For Iowa, it was a clinic in ball movement and pinpoint accuracy from distance as it showcased its potential as a team capable of making a deep tourney run. For Michigan State, it was another painful growing pain during a lost season, with its streak of 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances all but officially over.

“Today was an ambush,” Izzo concluded. “It’s not good. But it’s not been indicative of how we’ve played.”