MSU gets embarrassed by last-place Iowa 72-52

BY foxsports • February 2, 2011

The Detroit News

Feb. 3, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For anyone who thought things couldn't get any worse for Michigan State this season, witness what happened Wednesday on a snowy, frigid night.

It simply can't be stated any better than the final score: Iowa 72, Michigan State 52.

The fact that the Spartans lost their fifth conference game and fourth in the last five is bad enough, but considering they got blown out by the last-place team in the Big Ten (9-13, 2-8) might take the cake in what has quickly become a disastrous season for a team that said before the year it was adopting a national-championship-or-bust attitude.

Well folks, if it hadn't before, it sure looks now like it will be a bust now. Considering the schedule the Spartans have left, their NCAA hopes have all but disappeared. The bigger issue is, regardless of which games are left on the schedule, this is a team that simply doesn't have what it takes to reach the NCAA Tournament.

"I think this is the worst performance of a team that I've coached since I've been at Michigan State," coach Tom Izzo said. "I didn't feel our best players played very well and we tried to rely on other people.

"As you can imagine, we are reeling and just very disappointed that our leadership and our upperclassmen are not taking the bull by the horns. But I couldn't have done a very good job of coaching them and getting them ready. I'm sick of telling you that we practiced well and shot well and we looked like we were walking in quicksand here."

It's not hard to figure out which upperclassmen are drawing the wrath of Izzo. Senior guard Kalin Lucas scored 17 points, but he was 5-for-16 from the field and didn't record a single assist. It was an even worse night for senior guard Durrell Summers, who continues to be the biggest mystery on this team.

Summers scored just six points and had three turnovers on lazy passes that turned into points for the Hawkeyes, who scored 30 points off 17 Michigan State turnovers. Each time Summers threw the ball away, he stood and watched as the play went the other way.

"I will keep going back to the lack of leadership and say it can't be (Draymond Green) all the time," Izzo said. "It's got to be your guards and we've got to do a better job of it. I really don't know."

Both Summers and Lucas disagreed that the team was lacking leadership, but their answers hardly seemed any better.

"I don't even know," Summers said when he was asked about the lack of leadership.

Lucas defended his play.

"I was doing everything, trying to lead, trying to bring more energy to the team and trying to tell the guys to play harder and tell them we were going to come back," he said. "We just played with no emotion, no fight."

However, sophomore center Derrick Nix didn't hesitate when he was asked what he thinks the Spartans are missing.

"Leadership, senior leadership," he said. "Eric Snow told Coach if your team doesn't have senior leadership it won't be good. I guess he was right."

But Nix, who was again one of the few bright spots for Michigan State with a career-high 12 points, seemed as confused as anyone else as to why his team doesn't have the leadership.

"No, it's not surprising," Nix said. "But you have it or you don't at this point.

"I don't know cause I've never been in this situation. All I've ever done is win at Michigan State, so I don't know."

Now, with a game at Wisconsin on Sunday, MSU once again finds itself in a position where it must somehow try and pull out of a losing spiral, but this time it's not against a team at the bottom of the conference.

"I don't know how much farther you can drop," Green said. "I don't know how to explain anything that happened.

"I'm at a loss for words, to be honest."

Considering the Spartans face five ranked opponents in the next six games, they just might not have reached the bottom.

It's a position Izzo has rarely been in during 16 seasons at Michigan State.

"I'm going to make some changes, probably," he said. "There's going to be some guys that are going to have to grow up. I'm very disappointed with the leadership with this team. Draymond is trying to do it but you've got to have seniors that bring it and right now I'm struggling with that.

"I usually have answers, I don't have an answer. I just think, like a lot of things in life, sometimes you get into a territory that you've never been in before. I've been close before and worked my way out of it and one way or another we will work our way out of it.

"I'm going to go to practice (today) and get ready for Wisconsin, but this was the first time in quite a few years that I thought there was just a total letdown and I didn't see it coming."

Barring a miraculous turnaround, the season will end in a fashion nobody expected at Michigan State.

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