Iowa upends No. 1 Michigan State 83-70
Dec. 30, 2015
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Michigan State discovered just how tough things can be without do-everything star Denzel Valentine.
Mike Gesell scored a career-high 25 points and Iowa cruised past top-ranked Michigan State 83-70 on Tuesday night, handing the Spartans their first loss of the season.
Peter Jok had 19 points for the Hawkeyes (10-3, 1-0 Big Ten), which toppled a No. 1 team for the first time in 16 years.
Iowa never trailed in what turned out to be a surprisingly easy win over the Spartans (13-1, 0-1). The Hawkeyes led by as many as 19 points in snapping a nine-game losing streak against Michigan State.
"It was one of the rare times in my career I thought we got, for (lack) of a better choice of words, punked," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We got out-hustled."
Eron Harris scored 21 points to lead the Spartans. They were playing their second game without Valentine — their leader in scoring, rebounds and assists — and their first since Izzo's father Carl died Monday.
But Izzo refused to use Valentine's absence as an excuse, pointing instead to what he called a "disappointing effort."
"Zero," Izzo said about how much Valentine not playing hurt the Spartans. "That had something to do with not making baskets. But it had nothing to do with the effort you give."
Still, the Spartans looked so underwhelming in beating Oakland 99-93 last week without Valentine — who is out likely through next week after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee— that the unranked Hawkeyes were actually a slight favorite.
From the opening tip, it was easy to see why.
Iowa kept Michigan State off the scoreboard for nearly 6 minutes, and Dom Uhl's banked 3 put the Hawkeyes up 31-17 — despite having star Jarrod Uthoff on the bench with foul trouble — with just over 5 minutes left in the first half.
The Spartans trailed by double digits at halftime, this time 37-23, for the second straight game.
But the Hawkeyes aren't Oakland — and the Spartans simply couldn't keep up.
Consecutive 3s from Jok made it 58-39 with 11 minutes left, and Iowa cruised to its first win over a No. 1 team since beating Connecticut in former coach Steve Alford's debut in 1999.
"We really sustained effort and paid attention to the details," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I think we disrupted their offense quite a bit."
Matt Costello had 17 points for Michigan State.
"We struggled a lot defensively," Costello said. "They just got bucket after bucket, and we couldn't stop them."
Michigan State: Valentine entered Big Ten play averaging 18.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists per game. ...The Spartans play four of their first six Big Ten games on the road but close league play with four out of six in East Lansing. ... Alvin Ellis inadvertently deflected an inbounds pass into Iowa's basket early in the second half.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes lost to Dayton, Notre Dame and Iowa State in non-conference play by a combined 12 points. ... Iowa held a moment of silence for Izzo's father, and its fans followed with a polite ovation. ... Iowa was the second team from its state to take down the top-ranked team at home this season. Northern Iowa knocked off North Carolina in November in Cedar Falls.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"My dad was kind of a two-job, blue-collar immigrant that worked his posterior off most of his life, and that's what I asked of my team. 'Don't honor him with a win. Honor him by how we play.' That's been the most disappointing of all the things that've happened in the last two days," Izzo said.
Iowa redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer missed a tough layup late in the first half, and though he was clearly gassed he still got back in time to block Matt McQuaid's 3-point try. It was yet another moment of unexpected brilliance from the redshirt freshman, who still isn't even on scholarship. McCaffery said earlier this month that Baer, who had 11 points, will get a full ride as soon one becomes available.
Michigan State plays at Minnesota on Saturday.
Iowa visits No. 14 Purdue on Saturday.