Men’s basketball season ends in loss to Michigan State

BY IAN MARTIN | MARCH 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa was up by seven with 10:44 remaining in the second half, but Michigan State came back to defeat the Hawkeyes, 66-61, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Field House on Thursday.

An Eric May dunk and subsequent free throw gave Iowa (11-20) its largest margin of the game after the Hawkeyes had trailed for much of the game before that. But the experienced Spartans (18-13) were fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and they played like it the rest of the game.

Quickly, the game’s momentum swung.

Seventh-seeded Michigan State regained the lead on a Keith Appling lay-up at 8:21 that made the score 55-54.

Iowa players admitted that after the team was up by 7, they became too relaxed.

“We got a little lazy on defense after that,” sophomore guard May said. “That’s what hurt us.”

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And while the effort from Michigan State wasn’t unexpected, Iowa players couldn’t stave off the run.

“You knew they were going to try to make a run,” junior guard Matt Gatens said. “[But] we let up a little bit defensively, I thought, and we let them get comfortable.”

The game was by no means over after Michigan State regained the lead, but Iowa squandered chance after chance to win or send the contest to overtime.

After a Zach McCabe 3-pointer with 1:35 left, Iowa trailed by just 1. But McCabe missed another open 3 with under a minute left, and even though May grabbed an offensive rebound, senior Jarryd Cole turned the ball over on a bad post-entry pass with 29 seconds left. Gatens also missed a tough 3-pointer with six seconds left that would have tied the game.

The loss cannot simply be blamed on missed shots and the run, though. The Hawkeyes also failed to shut down Michigan State’s offense, particularly inside.

Sparty’s Draymond Green had his way with any defender trying to guard him, and he racked up 21 points and 16 rebounds.

The Saginaw, Mich., native used a variety of moves to score inside, and he also had six offensive rebounds.

“He’s a handful,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s got a very, very, complete skill set for a guy that big and strong … Rarely do you see a power forward lead a team in rebounding and assists. He made big plays when they needed them.”

Iowa’s post defense was lacking one component for the majority of the game after forward Andrew Brommer sprained his neck in the first half. A subpar game and foul trouble from freshman forward Melsahn Basabe didn’t help, either.

The freshman had just six points in 14 minutes of play. Basabe sat out for the last 16 minutes of the first half after getting two fouls in the first four minutes.

But the Hawkeyes didn’t make excuses afterwards.

It was a game like many this season for Iowa. An even game that eventually went in favor of the Hawkeyes’ opponent. And always the sign of inexperience — especially come tournament time — Iowa couldn’t come back from the hardest punch the Spartans gave them.

“We didn’t respond to [the run],” Gatens said. “That’s why they won and we lost.”

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