There are no easy road wins in the Big Ten, but the Spartans should have been easy favorites over the Hawkeyes whose best win was against Iowa State. The Spartans played sloppy and were helped out by the equally sloppy play of the Hawkeyes.
Tom Izzo was obviously displeased with his team’s play as they scored just 24 first-half points and shot just 40 percent for the game. This is not the first game that the Spartans have looked really sloppy this season, and not even the only time it has happened in conference play.
Just a week ago, they traveled to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers and that game was sloppy as could be as the Spartans trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. They ended up coming back to go up by five late in the second half before falling apart, allowing a 22-4 Minnesota run to end the game, losing by 13.
What does this mean for the Spartans?
Obviously they need to step up, especially because they play six of the conference’s best teams in the next nine games, five of which are ranked and four of those games are on the road.
This game at Iowa was a must-win for the Spartans and they delivered– barely.
They did have positives in a game plagued by turnovers and poor shooting. Sophomore Branden Dawson had a career-high 17 points and played inspired basketball for the second straight game. Izzo’s call for more effort on Dawson’s part has really translated into his play and is helping the Spartans when players like Derrick Nix and Keith Appling are having off-nights.
This team needs to wake up sooner rather than later as they will have a tough road ahead of them as they will play a ranked team eight more times this season, five of which are against top-10 teams.
This was a good road win, but this is just the beginning of a tough Big Ten schedule.