The Iowa Hawkeyes continue their quest for that elusive first Big Ten Conference win of the season, as they entertain the 22nd-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Thursday night.
Michigan State comes into this contest sporting a 12-3 overall mark, but the team is 1-1 in conference play following a 76-63 loss at Minnesota and an 84-61 win over Purdue. Despite their impressive record on the season, the Spartans are just 1-2 in true road games, and this is the first of four they will play outside of East Lansing in the next six games.
Iowa surprised some folks with its 11-2 mark in non-conference play, but the start of Big Ten action has seen the team drop two-in-a-row. UI is facing its third straight ranked opponent here, as it dropped a narrow 69-65 decision to No. 5 Indiana, followed by a 95-67 shellacking at No. 2 Michigan. The loss to the Hoosiers was the first in 10 home games for the Hawkeyes, who will play three of their next four on the road.
Michigan State owns a 66-53 lead in the all-time series with Iowa, and the Spartans have won the last four meetings, including a 92-75 decision during the 2012 Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan State's bread and butter is its ability to curtail the opposition's opportunities at the offensive end of the court, as evidenced by the fact that it permits just 57.7 ppg on typical shooting efforts of only .370 overall, .307 from 3-point range, and .645 from the free throw line. The Spartans also use a huge +9.9 rebounding margin to make up for the fact that it is guilty of nearly 15 turnovers per outing. MSU boasts just two double-digit scorers in the form of Keith Appling (14.3 ppg. 4.4 apg) and Gary Harris (13.1 ppg, team- high 22 3-pointers), although three others are on the cusp of joining them. Harris hit for 22 points, Branden Dawson logged a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Denzel Valentine added 11 points and Derrick Nix chipped in with 10, all of which the Spartans used to throttle visiting Purdue last Saturday. Michigan State hit 8-of-15 long-range attempts, won the rebounding battle (44-35), and outscored the Boilermakers at the foul line (18-9).
Iowa too has just a pair double-digit scorers on the roster, as Roy Devyn Marble (15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Aaron White (13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are the team's go-to guys on most trips down the floor. As a collective unit, the Hawkeyes are putting up 75.5 ppg in hitting 44.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which unfortunately includes a lackluster 31.1 percent effort from 3-point range. From a defensive standpoint, UI yields just 63.9 ppg as its foes are connecting on only 38.4 percent of their total shots, with a mere 29.1 percent of their long-range launches finding the bottom of the net. Marble scored 14 points and Anthony Clemmons finished with 12 points and seven assists, but those efforts weren't nearly enough as the Hawkeyes took it on the chin in their recent clash with No. 2 Michigan. Iowa made good on 43.5 percent of its total shots, including 7-of-20 3-pointers, compared to 58.1 percent (10-of-22 3-point range) for the Wolverines. Despite being beaten by nearly 30 points, there were some positives to take out of the game for Iowa, as it committed only seven turnovers.