Michigan State hasn’t lost in almost two months, but coach Tom Izzo isn’t too happy with his team’s play of late.
Despite two wins in two Big Ten games, Izzo hopes the sixth-ranked Spartans put forth a complete effort when they visit struggling Iowa on Saturday in their first conference road game.
Michigan State (14-1, 2-0) didn’t look much like a top 10 team in its 78-75 home win over Purdue on Tuesday. The win came after the Spartans were able to outlast an improved Minnesota team 65-59 last Saturday in their league opener.
The Spartans, who have won 11 in a row since losing to then-No. 2 UCLA on Nov. 20, squandered a 16-point, first-half lead Tuesday and fell behind by five with 5:52 left before they were able to come out on top of a back-and-forth contest.
“I’ve been telling you for a couple of weeks that I wasn’t pleased,” said Izzo, who remains concerned despite his team shooting a season-high 61.0 percent and outrebounding the Boilermakers 34-26. “The stats were very misleading. Michigan State has a lot of work to do.”
That’s because the Spartans committed 17 turnovers and allowed their second-most points of the season - well above the 63.6 average they are giving up.
While leading scorer Raymar Morgan had 14 points with seven rebounds and center Goran Suton added 12 and 10 rebounds, Michigan State was helped off the bench with 16 points from guard Kalin Lucas and 15 from fellow freshman Durrell Summers.
“You do have to learn how to win games and everything is not going to go your way,” Izzo said.
Now the Spartans must avoid slipping against lowly Iowa (7-9, 0-3), which has lost three in a row, but played well at home in a 79-76 loss to then-No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 2.
Though Michigan State had little trouble in an 81-49 win over the Hawkeyes on Feb. 17, the Spartans look to avoid a third straight road loss to Iowa, which won 62-60 on Jan. 4, 2007 in Iowa City.
Spartans guard Drew Neitzel, who averages 13.4 points, but has just 13 total in two conference games, averaged 18.5 against Iowa last season.
Iowa turned in its worst performance of the season, trailing by 28 points at halftime in losing 79-48 at Ohio State on Wednesday.
It was the second lowest scoring effort of the season for the Hawkeyes, who shot 33.9 percent and allowed the Buckeyes to shoot 52.4 percent—the most by an opponent this season.
“This was so painful,” first-year Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. “The only thing we can do is go back to work.”
Tony Freeman scored a season-high 21 points, while leading scoring Justin Johnson had just nine—well below his 15.1 season average. Freeman, who missed 10 games with a foot injury, is averaging 13.3 since his return.
Iowa, which has lost four of its last six at home, will try to avoid a seventh consecutive loss to a ranked opponent.