Well that was quite the roller coaster ride now wasn’t it?
After the Michigan State basketball team played terrible for the first 30 minutes of the game, falling behind the Iowa Hawkeyes by as much as 12 with just ten minutes to go in the game, the Spartans somehow found a way to fight back and win the game, 59-56.
In the first half, Iowa, who desperately needed this game to bolster their resume for a chance at getting into the NCAA tournament, was in complete control from the start of the game, taking a ten point lead into the break, 30-20.
Michigan State looked completely out of sync in the first half, playing one of their worst halves of basketball all season, going just 26.7% from the field on 8-30 shooting, all the while just making a ton of costly mistakes.
“They just came out with a little more energy simple as that,” Michigan State junior guard Keith Appling said. “They got all the 50/50 balls and like I said, they were all over the place. But the second half we picked it up and changed our mindset and were able to come out with the win.”
When the two teams came out in the second half, the Hawkeye lead hung right around that ten mark for quite sometime, with Michigan State just not able to close the gap. At times it looked as if they were going to catch back up, like when Appling threw down what could be the dunk of the year for the Spartans with about 17 minutes to play to cut the Iowa lead to seven, 35-28. However, Iowa would just come right back and extend their lead.
And the Hawkeye lead would make it’s way to 12 with about ten minutes to go in the game. A time when many Spartan players were hanging their heads, leaving some to believe that this one was over.
That all changed at the 10:03 mark though. With Michigan State down 12 points, 47-35, Appling made a jumper to cut the Hawkeye lead back to ten. From that point on, Appling, along with freshman guard Gary Harris, led a Spartan 22-2 run that would span over the next 8+ minutes to put Michigan State on top 57-49 with 1:52 to play.
“That’s the character of our team,” Appling said. “We have a lot of guys with the will to win, and we just didn’t want to go home. We fought as hard as we could and the second half, tried to pull away a little bit.”
However, once again, it just wasn’t over. Not quite yet. The Hawkeyes fought back with a quick 7-0 run of their own over the next minute to cut Michigan State’s lead to one, 56-57.
On the next Michigan State possession, Harris was fouled by Iowa forward Aaron White, sending him to the line to shoot two. After calmly sinking both free throws, Harris gave the Spartans a three point lead, 59-56, with 28 seconds to play.
On Iowa’s following possession, they had their chances but failed to convert, thus surrendering both their NCAA Tournament hopes, as well as the game to the Spartans.
Michigan State was led by junior center Adreian Payne (18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) as well as Harris and Appling, who both chipped in with 13 points a piece.
Interestingly enough, no player scored in double figures for the Hawkeyes, who were led in scoring by freshman guard Mike Gessell (9 points) and junior forward Melsahn Basabe (8 points, 8 rebounds). All in all, the Spartans did a good job containing Iowa’s leading scorer, Roy Devyn Marble, holding him to just 8 points on 3-9 shooting.
“After a disappointing halftime where I didn’t believe we were responding, these guys kind of took over,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “Branden Dawson, even a guy like Travis Trice, every one of them made a hero’s play at the end, and wasn’t just one guy. These guys spear headed it but every guy made a big play. And we found a way to luckily, luckily win.”
For Michigan State, the crazy win puts them at 25-7 on the season and moves them into the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament. It will be a quick turn around for the Spartans though, as they’ll take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (24-7, 13-5) in just 16 hours following their victory against Iowa. Tip off for that game is scheduled for around 4:00 PM and will be televised on CBS.
Follow Ryan Squanda on twitter @squandarunner