No. 8 Michigan St. 92, Iowa 75

Michigan State could do little wrong against Iowa in the first

half, and that’s all it took for the eighth-ranked Spartans to move

into the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Shooting 70 per cent from the field over the first 20 minutes,

Michigan State cruised to a 92-75 victory over the Hawkeyes on

Friday, with Draymond Green leading the way with 21 points and 10

rebounds.

”In the halfcourt, they were pounding it inside,” Iowa coach

Fran McCaffery said. ”We went from man to zone, back to man and

back to zone. There’s not much more you can do. We pressed a little

bit, but we give up a lot of size to them.”

Michigan State (25-7) led 55-39 at the break after scoring on

all but nine of their possessions. Adreian Payne chipped in with a

career-high 16 points, Keith Appling had 12 points and six assists

and Brandon Wood added 10 points.

When it was over, top-seeded Michigan State shot 58 per cent

from the field, and looks ready to go on one of its usual March

runs in the NCAA tournament.

”What did impress me today was our passing and or unselfishness

for three-fourths of that game,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

said.

The Spartans will play No. 15 Wisconsin on Saturday – the

Badgers defeated No. 14 Indiana 79-71 in another quarterfinal

Friday.

Izzo said he needs his defense to improve if the wins are to

continue.

”You have to be able to defend and rebound in this tournament

because you don’t have many 90-point games in the NCAA tournament

or this kind of tournament,” he said. ”I think we did that pretty

well most of the time.”

Josh Oglesby scored 20 points for Iowa (17-16). Zach McCabe and

Roy Devyn Marble added 13 points each for the Hawkeyes, who

defeated Illinois on Thursday. Iowa entered Friday’s game having

won four of six games, including wins against Indiana and

Wisconsin.

But the Hawkeyes faced a significant size disadvantage against

the Spartans. The Hawkeyes didn’t grab their first offensive

rebound until 2:39 remained in the first half, and they lost the

overall rebounding matchup 36-24.

Michigan State played its first game without forward Branden

Dawson, a freshman who tore a left knee ligament in the

regular-season finale against Ohio State.

The Spartans didn’t need him against the Hawkeyes, who have the

Big Ten’s worst defense. Michigan State defeated Iowa 95-61 on Jan.

10, and this one wasn’t much different.

A reverse layup by Derrick Nix, then a putback by Green on Nix’s

missed free throw put Michigan State up 26-22 midway through the

first half. A 3-pointer by Payne pushed the lead to 31-22 and

forced Iowa to call timeout.

Three Spartans scored in double figures in the first half, with

Payne’s 12 points leading the way. Payne came into the game

averaging just under seven points.

Iowa made 12 of 26 shots overall and 5 of 11 3-pointers in the

first half, a respectable showing that normally would keep a team

competitive. But Michigan State left little margin for error. The

Spartans led by as many as 28 points in the second half.

”We played really hard,” McCaffery said. ”I thought at the

start of the game, we came out the right way. We had a good

beginning, but I thought it got away from us there a little bit in

the second half.”

It was a good bounce-back game for the Spartans, who closed the

regular season with losses to Indiana and Ohio State.

”Coach reminded us before the game,” Green said. ”I forgot

that we had two losses in a row. It’s a brand new season. I just

completely forgot about it, knowing that we were 0-0. We’re 1-0 now

and one step closer.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap