CHICAGO – A quick recap of Michigan State’s 59-56 win over Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament at the United Center on Friday.
Overview: The Hawkeyes entered the day with a suspect résumé for a team hoping to be included in the NCAA tournament field. But they were still on the bubble.
Kentucky, Tennessee and other squads trying to impress the selection committee this weekend had already exited their respective tournaments when Iowa took the floor. But the Hawkeyes had more to prove than most. Their lackluster nonconference accomplishments and 70-plus RPI weren't exactly solid footing for a convincing at-large argument.
But the Hawkeyes played with the heart and determination one would expect from a team in their position. They punched the Spartans in the mouth early and led 30-20 at halftime. They controlled the momentum and the pace.
Michigan State features multiple veterans. But the Spartans were unraveling. And coach Tom Izzo knew it.
In the second half, he called a timeout and blasted his players.
By then, they’d been down by as many as 12 (Iowa led 47-35 on Zach McCabe’s layup with 10:26 to go). But something changed with the Spartans down the stretch.
Perhaps it was Keith Appling's “SportsCenter” top-10-worthy dunk a few minutes into the second half. Perhaps it was Derrick Nix settling down and leading again. Adreian Payne found his swagger. Maybe it was just shot selection.
But the Spartans bounced back and recovered with a 15-2 run that stunned the Hawkeyes and put the Spartans up by a point, 50-49, on a Gary Harris 3-pointer with 4:11 to play.
Iowa, however, kept fighting. Aaron White’s 3-pointer with 1:32 to go closed the gap to 57-54. Then Michigan State committed a costly turnover. Melsahn Basabe scored on a putback layup on his team’s next possession. One-point game.
But White fouled Harris on the other end and Harris made both free throws to extend his team’s lead back to three.
With nine seconds to play, after Basabe missed a 3-pointer and Appling couldn’t corral the rebound, Iowa was down 59-56 in one of the most exciting games of the day.
Roy Devyn Marble missed a turnaround 3-pointer in the final seconds and Payne retrieved it. Game over.
Turning point: Michigan State (25-7) was playing really undisciplined basketball prior to its 15-2 run in the second half. It snatched the momentum in the United Center with that come-from-behind rally.
Key player: Payne scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots.
Key stat: How did Michigan State end up in that early hole? Well, its 13 turnovers didn’t help. How did Iowa (21-12) squander that lead? Well, its 17 turnovers didn’t help.
Next game: Michigan State will face Ohio State in Saturday’s semifinal. Iowa will wait to hear its fate on Selection Sunday. NIT is the likely destination.
Miscellaneous: Appling’s dunk three minutes into the second half might have been the greatest of 2012-13. That’s all. Find the clip. Now.