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Men’s basketball beats Michigan State by 20

BY IAN MARTIN | FEBRUARY 03, 2011 7:10 AM

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It may have been cold outside, but the Hawkeyes were hot inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday.

The Iowa basketball team defeated Michigan State with a barrage of points in the first half and a consistent second half to beat the Spartans, 72-52.

The Hawkeyes now improve to 2-8 in Big Ten play, 9-13 overall, while Michigan State falls to 5-5 in conference, 13-9 overall.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was quick to praise his squad for playing a full 40 minutes for the first time in a long time.

“This is our most complete game without question, at both ends,” he said. “If you look at a couple things … we had numerous people score … we made our free throws.”

In a game in which Matt Gatens scored 19 points and broke the 1,000 career-points barrier — becoming the 40th Iowa player to do so — the rest of the Iowa squad was firing on all cylinders, too, seemingly from the opening tip.

The first half was all Hawkeyes, even though the team was without freshman star Melsahn Basabe for more than 13 minutes — he sat on the bench with two fouls.

But it didn’t matter; Iowa took a 41-20 lead into the break. All of Michigan State’s first-half points came from inside the 3-point line or from the free-throw line. The team’s leading scorer, point guard Kalin Lucas, was the only person who could get it going in the opening frame, scoring half of his team’s first-half total.

The visiting team’s head coach wasn’t pleased with his team’s first-half — or second-half — performance.

“I think that was the worst performance of a team I’ve coached since I’ve been at Michigan State,” Tom Izzo said.

It didn’t seem so much that the Spartans were off as much as the Hawkeyes were on defensively. Iowa even forced a rare 35-second violation by Michigan State just four minutes into the game.

And Iowa’s offense was just as potent as its defense.

The Hawkeyes went on a 30-8 run to start the first half, and at one point had made 16 of their first 20 shot attempts. Not only that, but seemingly every made basket was a pure swish.

The second half was much of the same story, with the Hawkeyes not allowing the poisonous runs they have in past games this season.

Point guard Bryce Cartwright, who had a career high 10 assists to go along with 12 points, said the team was able to hold the lead because of its recognition on when to run a fast break and when to hold the ball.

“I think we had a good balance of pushing it when we had it,” he said. “And not overdoing it when we didn’t have it.”

With a milestone from Gatens — which came with 10:45 left in the second on a free throw — and a good night to celebrate it with a big win, McCaffery said the victory is just what the doctor ordered for his youthful squad.

“We’ve had some moral victories,” he said. “And it’s one thing to say we played well against Ohio State, that’s great. But these kids needed a win like this to show they could put it all together.”


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