This wasn't a new script. Iowa going into the Breslin Center and getting knocked around by Michigan State is nothing unusual. It's been the natural of order of things for quite a while, in fact. Iowa is 1-17 at Michigan State since the 1994-95 season, and most of them haven't been close, as Jon Miller pointed out:
I've seen this movie about a dozen times since Dr Tom retired. 13 games at The Breslin, 12 losses, 10 losses by at least double digits, one by 8, one by 7 and one win. And most all of the losses look like this. Just unwatchable, physical bludgeoning.— Jon Miller (@hawkeyenation) December 4, 2018
Again, those losses really haven't been close, either:
This is likely MSU's 23rd win of 10+ points over Iowa since 1997-98.— Matt Benson (@mbenson6) December 4, 2018
The 23 such wins would be the most against Iowa by any single opponent since 1997-98.
And the 23 losses by Iowa to MSU would match Northwestern for the most against MSU by any single opponent since 1997-98.
In this relationship, Michigan State is the bully and we're the victim who loses his lunch money every day. That doesn't exactly make it feel any better, but it's certainly a familiar feeling.
This game started alright for Iowa and they hung with Sparty for a good chunk of the first half. A Nicholas Baer jumper made it 26-25 MSU with 7 minutes to play in the half. MSU ended the half on a 17-8 run to take a 43-33 lead into the break. It didn't get better in the second half. In fact, it got worse. Michigan State went on a 23-3 run in the first 9:40 of the half. It's borderline miraculous that Iowa actually scored 35 points in the second half considering that they only scored three points in the first ten minutes. But all of those points came in garbage time -- because garbage time started a few minutes after halftime. During that 23-3 run Iowa missed 19 field goals and had four turnovers. The nadir was a point around the 13 minute mark in the second half when Iowa missed seven shots on the same possession. They were already down 20 at that point so the outcome of the game wasn't really in doubt, but that sequence was emblematic of how awful Iowa's offense was for much of this game.
For the game, Iowa shot 21/64 (32.8%) from the field and continued to be cold from 3-point range (6/22, 27.3%). Luka Garza was an ice cold 1/10 from the floor (4/4 from the free throw line), though he did have nine rebounds and three assists. Jordan Bohannon made a couple shots early in the game but he ended up shooting 4/12 overall and 2/7 from long range; another poor performance from him. Isaiah Moss had his best game of the year, providing 13 points on 4/8 shooting (2/3 from 3-point range). Tyler Cook's numbers weren't bad overall -- 15 points on 6/13 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals -- but like everyone else on the Iowa roster, he had no answers to stop the bleeding at the end of the first half or through the first ten minutes of the second half. Joe Wieskamp was a minor bright spot early and finished with 8 points on 2/5 shooting and 4 rebounds, but his night ended early due to a reported ankle injury:
Fran McCaffery said after the game that Joe Wieskamp hurt his ankle in the second half. He will be evaluated by the medical staff the next couple days and will likely be a game time decision on Thursday. #Hawkeyes— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 4, 2018
If he's out for the Iowa State game on Thursday... gulp.
As lousy as Iowa's offense was in this game, their defense was also a shambles, especially inside. Nick Ward scored a career-high 26 points on perfect 10/10 shooting and added nine rebounds in just 23 minutes of work. He was utterly unstoppable around the basket. Kenny Goins nearly posted a triple double with 19 points on 6/11 shooting to go with 14 rebounds and 7 assists and 2 steals. And Xavier Tillman came off the bench to add to Sparty's feast down low, scoring 14 points on 5/6 shooting and contributing 8 rebounds and 4 blocks as well. Joshua Langford was MSU's other double digit scorer, with 14 points on 5/13 shooting with five assists. Cassius Winston's shot wasn't falling (he had 8 points on 2/9 shooting) but he was an excellent distributor, dishing out 12 assists as MSU sliced and diced Iowa's hapless defense. Michigan State ended the game with 28 assists on 31 made field goals, which seems almost impossible. For long portions of this game MSU's offense looked like a layup line or a dunk drill; they just did whatever they wanted to Iowa down low. They outscored Iowa 48-20 on points in the paint.
Iowa played Sparty even for the first 13-14 minutes of the game and the final 10 minutes (with the obvious caveat that the final 10 minutes were 100% garbage time and Sparty wasn't trying that hard). But they got completely destroyed by Sparty in the 15-ish minutes in the middle of the game; that's when MSU took a close game and turned into an absolute rout, as Iowa's offense went completely dry and Iowa's defense couldn't buy a stop. Long offensive droughts and hapless defense aren't new phenomena for Iowa basketball, but if they don't get solved in a hurry, the early promise of this season will be replaced with the deja vu of disappointment.
NEXT: Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host Iowa State on Thursday (7 PM CT, FS1).