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Hawkeyes got the late looks, but didn’t get to watch themselves wrest a win at Michigan State
Spartans eke out a 63-61 win over Iowa after Payton Sandfort missed two 3-pointers in the last 5 seconds
(This story was written in Cedar Rapids.)
The 3-point shots were there for Iowa at the end, but 3-point shooting wasn’t its specialty Thursday night.
Payton Sandfort took two 3s in the last five seconds of Iowa’s 63-61 men’s basketball loss to the Spartans at Breslin Center. Connor McCaffery rebounded Sandfort’s first miss and whipped the ball back to Sandfort in the left corner, but his second try was short and Iowa lost for the second-straight game after a four-game win streak.
“I thought our execution on the last play was great,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on the Hawkeye Radio Network’s postgame show. “We get a second-shot opportunity and another great look at it. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Hawkeyes are 4-5 in the Big Ten, 12-8 overall. Michigan State is 6-4 and 14-7.
Sandfort’s misses capped a 3-for-17 Iowa night from deep to go with a costly 6-of-13 effort from the foul line. Ahron Ulis had a career-high 17 points to lead Iowa, but he was 0-of-3 from the line in the second half, and he had six of Iowa’s 13 turnovers.
“I thought his defense was spectacular and I thought his aggressiveness was effective,” McCaffery said. “He’s got to take better care of the ball, especially coming down the stretch.”
The Hawkeyes, however, did shoot 45.6 percent from the field compared to MSU’s 38.7, but the Spartans were 8-of-20 from 3-point.
“As Jud (Heathcote) always said,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo noted, “an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.”
Rebounding, an area in which Izzo’s Spartans usually get the best of opponents, wasn’t in their favor this game. Iowa had a 38-37 edge, though MSU got 12 offensive boards that led to 11 second-chance points. Iowa’s Filip Rebraca had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his 16 points, and blocked two shots.
“He really battled,” McCaffery said.
“Michigan State is known for their physical style,” Rebraca said on the Hawkeye Radio Network’s postgame show. “I feel like we matched it for the most part.”
But the Hawkeyes didn’t make any kind of basket in the last six minutes until Connor McCaffery scored with 34 seconds left to pull Iowa within 63-61. MSU guard A.J. Hoggard missed the front of a one-and-one with 20 seconds remaining, but Iowa couldn’t take advantage after securing the rebound.
The game had 13 lead changes and six ties after Iowa broke to a 10-0 lead as the Spartans missed their first nine shots. However, Michigan State scored the next six points, and stayed close. It took its first lead with 4:52 left in the half and was up 30-29 at halftime.
Neither team led by more than four points in the second half. Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins hit jumpers to turn a 59-59 game into a 63-59 MSU lead, and the 63 points were enough.
Iowa’s Kris Murray had 11 points, 10 under his season average. He was 0-of-5 from 3-point after making 21 3s over his last seven games.
Michigan State had no one with more than 12 points, but five players with at least 10. Included was senior forward Malik Hall, playing for the first time in the last four games after reinjuring a foot. He was his team’s spiritual leader, with the fans roaring every time he scored. The 6-8 forward had four assists.
“If I had to pick a number one star, it would be Malik Hall,” Izzo said. Before the game, Izzo said he had no idea how much Hall would or could play.
“It is more comforting when he is out there,” he said. “The guy just does a lot of things.”
Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery did not play. His father said Wednesday that Patrick will return and perhaps soon, but when he’s ready.
The Hawkeyes are now looking at a three-game homestand, starting Sunday at 1 p.m. against Rutgers, which is 6-3 in the conference. Iowa defeated the Scarlet Knights in New Jersey earlier this month.