The Daily Iowan

Hawkeye upset falls apart late, Spartans escape victorious

Iowa did its best to take down No. 4 Michigan State, but the Spartans erased a late Hawkeye lead and cranked out a heart-breaking victory on the road.

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Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Michigan State's Gavin Schilling, and Iowa’s Isaiah Moss line up for a free throw attempt during a basketball game between Iowa and Michigan State on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes 96-93. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Michigan State's Gavin Schilling, and Iowa’s Isaiah Moss line up for a free throw attempt during a basketball game between Iowa and Michigan State on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes 96-93. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Michigan State's Gavin Schilling, and Iowa’s Isaiah Moss line up for a free throw attempt during a basketball game between Iowa and Michigan State on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes 96-93. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Adam Hensley, [email protected]

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The story of David and Goliath is always a nice one, but sometimes, Goliath doesn’t want to go down.

After leading Michigan State for most of the second half and flirting with an upset bid, Iowa slowly watched its lead dwindle down before losing it for good.

The Spartans topped the Hawkeyes, 96-93, in a game in which Iowa had plenty of opportunities to take command of the game with a late lead.

“I think we played our behinds off,” Tyler Cook said. “We competed against a great team, a Final Four team, so I’m proud of that. [There were] a couple things we could have done better down the stretch that might have changed the outcome of the game.”

Iowa held a 1-point lead with 1:54 remaining in the game, but Miles Bridges made a pair of free throws to elevate Michigan State up one, and that was the last the Hawkeyes saw of a lead.

With 31 seconds to play, Iowa trailed, 91-90, and Isaiah Moss had caught the ball at the top of the key. He had trouble securing the inbounds pass with the Spartan defense draped all over him, and he threw up an air-ball as the shot clock expired. It was unclear who that out-of-bounds play was designed for, as Moss had to improvise on the fly.

“I thought he was just going to pull up,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “By the time he sort of gathered himself, there wasn’t enough time to call a timeout. It was just an unfortunate play for him and for us.”

Iowa hung with Michigan State for the entire game thanks to a well-rounded offensive attack.

Tyler Cook led the charge, scoring a game-high 26 points. Jordan Bohannon followed with 17 points and five makes from downtown to go along with 6 assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Iowa’s bench, which has been hit or miss this season, stood tall when called upon; Maishe Dailey and Cordell Pemsl combined to score 24 points. Dailey’s timely 3-pointers and Pemsl’s work in the paint gave Cook and Bohannon time to recharge on the bench.

Iowa found its momentum early in the second half from Tyler Cook, much like in the win against Minnesota. Once again, a pair of thunderous slams courtesy of the sophomore ignited the Hawkeyes, who outscored the Spartans, 51-48, in the second half.

“I think they really fought. I’m really proud of their fight,” McCaffery said. “I thought the effort consistently was there. I thought for the most part the effort’s usually there, but it’s execution – we only turned it over eight times against a really good defensive team.”

The 11,350 in attendance rose to their feet after Bohannon nailed a 3-pointer, putting Iowa up, 68-64.

The 3-pointers kept falling, as Dailey churned out arguably his best performance off the season. Coming off the bench, the sophomore sparked momentum with his corner 3-pointer (one of his three makes from deep), and Nicholas Baer took a miss coast-to-coast to widen Iowa’s lead to seven points.

Baer had a shot to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, but his half-court heave clanked on the front rim, inducing a sigh from the Carver-Hawkeye crowd.

“I give Fran a lot of credit, more credit than I give myself,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “He’s had a tough season. That team is as good of an offensive team that we’ve played.”

Rankings wise, Michigan State was Iowa’s toughest opponent remaining on its schedule entering Tuesday’s game, but the remaining games aren’t a walk in the park by any means.

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