Spartans dominate second half, dispatch Hawkeyes


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A team hitting 63 percent of its shots from 3-point range in the first half usually means that it’s going to come back to earth in the second half, because of the percentage’s unsustainable nature.

But No. 22 Michigan State defied statistical probability Thursday night, following up its first-half shooting spree with a 50-percent mark from behind the arc in the second half en route to an 86-76 victory over the No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes.

“Michigan State did a good job of making adjustments coming out of the half, and they were a lot more physical,” Iowa senior Devyn Marble said in a release. “They were using their hands a lot on defense, and the refs were letting them play. We didn’t adjust the way we needed to.”

Despite a valiant effort from Marble — who notched his fifth-straight 20-point game with a game high 24 on 9-of-17 shooting — Iowa’s overall effort and performance wasn’t nearly enough to dispatch the favored Spartans in the Breslin Center.

“How great was Devyn Marble in the first half?” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release. “I am so amazed in his continued development; he keeps getting better. With that kind of first-half performance by Devyn and the rest of our team, we should have been up by more than 2. Then, that changes everything.”

As McCaffery noted, Iowa held a 2-point halftime lead; but the second half was a much different story. Tom Izzo’s Spartans completely dominated play after the break, outscoring the Black and Gold by a 12-point margin.

“I wanted to come out and be aggressive and do what I’ve been doing,” Marble said. “I was trying to get us off to a good start, and we were able to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t think we got as many stops as we could have to extend that lead.”

For Michigan State, guards Gary Harris (5-of-8 field goals), Denzel Valentine (4-of-5), and Travis Trice (4-of-5) all had successful offensive nights, finishing with 12, 13, and 17 points, respectively.
Valentine, a sophomore from Lansing, Mich., also had 9 assists and 6 rebounds on the Spartans’ Senior Night.

As a team, the Spartans shot 58.3 percent from the field, including 56 percent of its 3-point attempts.

Near the end of the game, McCaffery and Iowa forward Zach McCabe received technical fouls for their roles in separate incidents. McCaffery was given his with 5:27 left in the game after he confronted the officiating crew.

McCabe received his technical after he appeared to bring Trice to the floor after their arms became entangled. 

Iowa hasn’t won at Michigan State since 1993, but it still has a good chance to lock up a bye in the conference tournament, scheduled for next weekend.

Iowa will host Illinois Saturday night in Iowa City. If it wins that game and Nebraska loses to Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., on March 9, the Hawkeyes will be the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, meaning it receives an automatic bye to the quarterfinals.

Saturday will be the last game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the team’s three seniors — Marble, McCabe, and Melsahn Basabe.

The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini in Champaign on Feb. 1. But considering the way Iowa ahs played recently — it has dropped four of its last five contests — nothing is guaranteed at this point.

“We have to have a short memory,” Marble said in a release. “We have to get back home, get ready for Illinois, learn from our mistakes and move on.”

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