IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)—Behind the suddenly scorching backcourt duo of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, No. 9 Michigan State made sure it wouldn’t be embarrassed at Iowa for the second straight year.
Lucas tied his career high with 24 points and Summers added 21 as the Spartans cruised past Iowa 71-56 for their fifth straight Big Ten road victory.
The Spartans (17-3, 7-1), the nation’s leader in rebounding margin entering play, outrebounded the Hawkeyes 35-28 and never trailed en route to their 13th win in 14 games.
Iowa cut a 22-point deficit to 61-52 with 5:55 left on consecutive 3-pointers by Jeff Peterson and Jermain Davis. Summers answered with a jumper and a layup, and the Spartans held the Hawkeyes scoreless for a stretch of nearly 4 1/2 minutes to seal the win.
Peterson had 14 points for Iowa (12-9, 2-6), which lost for the fifth time in six games. Coach Todd Lickliter fell to 1-9 against ranked teams, his only win coming against Michigan State last season, 43-36.
Iowa was playing without its leading post presence, Cyrus Tate, who was out with a high ankle sprain, and the Hawkeyes simply had no answer for Michigan State’s inside game or the backcourt of Lucas and Summers.
Lucas has scored at least 20 points in six of his last nine games, after not scoring more than 17 in a game before his current run. Summers set a career high with 26 points against Ohio State on Sunday, but before that his season high was 14.
“That’s a big dynamic for the team,” Summers said. “How our team is, I think on any given night, a guy can really go off on the offensive end.”
Michigan State pushed a 13-point halftime lead to 50-28 with 15:21 left. Lucas made a layup off an off-balance feed from Goran Suton, who had saved the ball from going out of bounds, and Travis Walton capped a 12-3 run with a 19-footer.
Michigan State extended the best conference road start in school history and is 10-2 away from the Breslin Center. The Spartans have put themselves in position to pull away from the rest of the league, with their next three games at home against Penn State, Minnesota and Indiana.
“We’ve done it in different ways,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I’m kind of on this team right now because I still don’t think we have the focus you need every day, every practice.”
The Spartans passed the 36 points they scored in last year’s loss at Iowa— their lowest output since 1952—with 5 seconds left in the first half. Lucas buried a mid-range jumper to put Michigan State ahead 38-25 at halftime.
“I think it was a big win for us, believe it or not,” Izzo said. “It was probably the best we got our running game going, got off to a good start. Our speed was a big advantage.”
Michigan State grabbed 17 of the game’s first 21 rebounds and had as many offensive boards (9) as Iowa had on both ends in the opening half. The Spartans took their first double-digit lead, 20-10, on a 3 by Summers midway through the first half, and led by at least eight the rest of the way.
“We come into every game looking at ourselves as the road warriors,” Summers said.
With Iowa down 22 with 14:44 left, an Iowa fan yelled out “We want Shonn Greene in,” a reference to the Doak Walker Award-winning running back seated at courtside. The Hawkeyes could have used someone with Greene’s brute force in the first half as they were beaten on the boards 23-9.
Michigan State’s starting frontcourt duo of Suton and Delvon Roe outrebounded Iowa’s starting forwards David Palmer and Aaron Fuller 21-5.
“They’re a well-coached, skilled physical team. They present a lot of problems,” Lickliter said. “If you don’t get your defense set and you don’t keep them off the glass, every team in the nation will be in trouble. Their commitment to rebounding is second to none.”
In an effort to boost lagging attendance, Iowa let its students in for free. Though about 2,600 took the Hawkeyes up on the offer, there were still plenty of empty seats by tipoff.
Iowa is on pace to set a record low for average attendance at the 26-year old Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the second straight season. The 13,640 fans that showed up saw Michigan State dominate the slumping Hawkeyes for nearly the entire game.
“There was just a green blur, going past me at a very high rate of speed. We told our guys and you can show ‘em on tape, but I don’t think you can really understand the speed that they play at in the full court and by the time we realized it, we were in trouble,” Lickliter said.
Michigan State junior forward Raymar Morgan didn’t start because of a viral infection. He scored two points in eight minutes.