The last perfect home record in the Big Ten has fallen.
Michigan State topped Iowa 71-69 in overtime Tuesday night, handing the Hawkeyes their first home loss of the season and rebounding from the toughest loss of the 2013-14 campaign to date.
Here are four things to takeaway from MSU’s overtime win:
1. Sensational sophomores
Sophomores Matt Costello and Denzel Valentine each played major roles in the Spartans’ victory. Costello finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds while Valentine scored 12 points of his own. Costello was a nuisance for the Hawkeyes underneath the rim and had an important tip-in to give the Spartans their first overtime lead. Valentine rebounded from possibly his worst game of the year in a loss to Michigan with several important second half baskets.
2. The Spartans are not healthy, but not completely broken either
The absence of Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson and a 100 percent Keith Appling was glaring at times. But contributions from younger players like Travis Trice, Costello and Valentine gave the Spartans the edge. MSU can only get better as its key veterans return and the confidence of its role-players rises.
3. Sometimes, the least likely candidate turns into the hero
Redshirt junior Russell Byrd scored his only three points when he drilled the proverbial dagger into Iowa’s heart with 30 seconds left in overtime to give MSU a 70-64 lead. Byrd’s smile was beaming as he jogged down the court and his Spartan teammates, stunned as any of us, congratulated him on possibly the biggest shot of his career thus far.
4. When Gary Harris touches the ball, good things happen
Gary Harris touches the ball, Gary Harris scores the ball. Rinse, lather and repeat. After MSU’s heartbreaking loss to UofM Harris said he felt he was not aggressive enough down the stretch. Harris finished with just nine points against Iowa, but the offensive threat he poses gets his teammates opened. The opposition has to give his offensive potential respect, and after Tuesday night’s win the Spartans are also due a greater deal of respect.