EditorsNote: Corrects details of Winston’s scoring run in graf 3; other minor edits
Michigan State silenced Iowa center Luka Garza down the stretch to extend its series mastery of the Hawkeyes and pick up a much-needed win over a ranked conference foe.
The No. 24-ranked Spartans (19-9, 11-6 Big Ten) raced off with a 78-70 win over the No. 18 Hawkeyes (19-9, 10-7) on Monday night in East Lansing, Mich., after climbing out of a 10-point hole early in the second half.
Freshman guard Rocket Watts tied his career high with 21 points, and senior guard Cassius Winston had 19 of his 20 points after the break. Winston hit four straight baskets — including three straight 3-pointers — to spark the rally.
Garza, the 6-foot-11 junior, reached 20 points for the 13th straight game, tying him for the longest streak by an Iowa player since 1971. He finished 8 of 21 from the floor but was held scoreless over the final seven minutes as the Spartans pulled away.
Sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp, Iowa’s second-leading scorer, was held to four points on 1-of-8 shooting. Freshman guard CJ Fredrick, Iowa’s No. 3 scorer, missed a third straight game with a sprained ankle.
The night began with a five-way tie for second place in the Big Ten, but the Spartans nosed their way atop that scrum with a Saturday night showdown looming at league-leading and ninth-ranked Maryland.
Iowa built a 33-27 halftime lead while outrebounding the Spartans 22-16 and holding Winston to just three floor attempts. Early foul trouble on Spartans forward Xavier Tillman sent Garza to a 12-point first half on 5-of-12 shooting.
The Spartans, who made 13 3-pointers in an 86-65 win at Nebraska last time out, shot just 1 of 9 from distance in the first half.
Garza was averaging just 12 points in his three previous games against the Spartans, including a 1-for-10 shooting performance in Iowa’s 22-point loss in his only previous trip to East Lansing in December 2018.
Iowa has dropped five straight games to the Spartans and 14 out of 16 in the series overall, dating to March 2011. In East Lansing, the Hawkeyes have gone 1-21 since January 1994.
The Spartans snapped a two-game losing streak on their home court and claimed back-to-back wins for the first time since late January.
—Field Level Media