Preview: Iowa at Michigan State
Michigan State looks to stay unbeaten in Big Ten Conference play when it hosts Iowa on Monday. The eighth-ranked Spartans won their league opener Friday night at Rutgers 78-67, while 15th-ranked Iowa comes into the contest looking for its first Big Ten victory after falling to No. 22 Wisconsin 72-66 Friday at home.
The Hawkeyes have a balanced scoring effort, led by the interior duo of junior forward Tyler Cook (15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds) and 6-11 sophomore center Luka Garza (13.9 points). Iowa is aggressive with the ball, ranking first in the country in both free throw makes per game (25.3) and in attempts (32.7) entering Sunday, with the Hawkeyes having made 19 or more free throws in six of seven contests. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo relies on his backcourt for offense and leadership, with junior guards Cassius Winston (17.9 points, 7.1 assists) and Joshua Langford (17.5 points) ranking 1-2 on the team in scoring. Junior forward Nick Ward is the third double-figure scorer at 14.6 points, but at 6-9, he struggles a bit against bigger defenders, so how well he handles Iowa’s front line will be a key for the Spartans.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT IOWA (6-1, 0-1 Big Ten): Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon came into the 2018-19 season having hit over 41 percent from 3-point range in each of his first two campaigns with the Hawkeyes. But the junior has struggled this season, hitting just 30.6 percent and posting his lowest scoring average at Iowa – 10.1 points per game. Bohannon continues to play and try to find his stroke – he hit three 3-pointers in the second half against Wisconsin – but he has yet to shoot consistently this season, and coach Fran McCaffery can only wait so long before going with other options.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (6-2, 1-0): One big problem for Michigan State in its losses has been turnovers, especially the unforced variety, though Izzo told reporters he continues to harp on his team about taking care of the basketball. After totaling 53 turnovers in its previous three contests, the Spartans were able to hold onto the ball against Rutgers, committing just seven miscues, including none from point guards Winston and Foster Loyer. Michigan State will need more of that against Iowa, a team that loves to apply pressure and get out on the break off an opponent’s turnovers.
1. Garza is fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (60.7).
2. Michigan State G Matt McQuaid has missed the last two contests with a thigh injury and Izzo said he wasn’t optimistic the senior would play against Iowa.
3. The Spartans hold a 73-55 advantage over the Hawkeyes in their all-time series, having won 11 of the last 13 meetings.