Following a loss to then-No. 21 Michigan, a win on the road would be just the thing to right the ship for No. 7 Michigan State (10-2, 19-2). The hosts, No. 15 Iowa (5-3, 16-5), wanted to make a statement by firing a warning shot that the Big Ten Championship wasn’t out of their grasp.
It’s true that you can’t win if you can’t score, but the Hawkeyes took that adage to a new level Tuesday night.
The battered and bruised Spartans came out firing, launching shot after shot from beyond the arc, converting one or two and allowing Iowa to gain what little momentum it could.
However, if the Hawkeyes’ effort was any indication, they wouldn’t have put points on the board if they were trying to knock down pins in bumper bowling. Despite their attempts to give the game away as some odd form of charity, Iowa held a 30-26 lead at the half.
Logic suggested the Hawkeyes would settle down, find a rhythm and put away the limping Spartans. Logic was not welcome in Iowa City. Iowa didn’t score a field goal in the last 9:56 of the second-half, prompting overtime and giving Michigan State the opportunity to limp across the finish line.
Keith Appling led all Spartan scorers with 16 points while Travis Trice helped his ailing teammates with 10 points off the bench. Roy Devyn Marble was Iowa’s lone standout with 21 points and five rebounds on the defensive side of the floor.
The Hawkeyes will visit East Lansing later this season, but their chance at a conference title comes with the daunting task of taking down Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin at home along with the aforementioned trip to see a potentially much healthier Spartan squad.