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Sunday, February 06, 2005
Michigan State 75, Iowa 64
Enough Iowa fans crowded into Carver-Hawkeye yesterday to give the Arena its first sell-out of the season, and they were treated to a strong second half comeback. Iowa played a decent game, without the services of recently dismissed leading scorer Pierre Pierce, but ultimately came up short and lost 75-64.

The Hawks started the game very cold from the field and could only muster 5 field goals in 22 first half attempts (23%), and didn't hit their third field goal until the 4:52 mark. They seemed to get fouled every time they went inside, though, and kept the game within reach by shooting 23 first half free throws, making 16. Greg Brunner picked up his second foul before the first TV timeout, and his absence was a major factor in the team's offensive struggle. Iowa was able to keep the deficit around ten points, but Michigan State banked in a three to beat the shot clock on their last possession of the half to lead 39-27.

MSU opened the second half with a 14-4 run in the first 4 and a half minutes to reach their largest lead of the game (22). Iowa answered with a 16-4 run of its own, fueled mainly by the rebounding and 7 points from Brunner. But he picked up another foul with just over 9 minutes left, and Iowa would again struggle without him.

The Iowa crowd was as energetic as it has been all season, and even stood for extended periods of time, especially at the end of the game. As far as pure excitement at a basketball game goes, there aren't many moments greater than the crescendo of crowd noise during a series of successful plays. The following run was one such set of plays -

3:00 MSU 67, IA 58
2:42 offensive rebound, Doug Thomas
2:42 2 FTM, Greg Brunner, 67-60
2:21 steal by Doug Thomas
2:07 layup by Greg Brunner, 67-62

Michigan State found Paul Davis open on the baseline on their next possession. He went up for what looked to be the exclamation point two-handed dunk. But Brunner slid over and and reached up for what looked like a game-saving block. The crowd initially erupted, but a late whistle turned into Brunner's 5th foul, and with 1:25 left, it looked like all hope was lost.

Just when Iowa needed help the most, Paul Davis missed both free throws. On the other end, Jeff Horner drove into traffic and threw up an off-balance runner that somehow kissed the backboard and spun into the basket, and a ref's whistle pierced the frenzied screams of the crowd......count the basket! But Iowa's magic act would end there. The refs somehow called Horner for a charge (yet counted the basket). I've never understood that call, and I won't pretend to now. I will say that on the news it looked like the MSU player was clearly under the basket when Horner fell onto him after his shot.

The call proved to be the rally killer, as MSU made two free throws on Horner's foul to reach a 5 point lead, then added six more in the final minute as Iowa scrambled to stop the clock. All in all, it was a great effort from a group that looked overmatched against the Big Ten's best defense.

Game Notes

BillH from http://www.benched42.net/

I completely agree with you that Reed should get more minutes. I like Mikey for his hustle, but agree that he doesn't add much to the team. It was nice to see Haluska play like he did for ISU two years ago. He should break out with Pierce gone (I say good riddance to bad rubbish). Also, Brunner is going to have to learn to play more minutes. If the Hawks are to be successful, he will have to play at least 32 minutes. I think Hansen is ONLY good for blocking shots; he is an offensive liability. By the way, a blocked shot is NOT good defense -- it is a last resort because you played BAD defense up to that point. Thomas is kind of a mystery; he is about as consistent as oatmeal and needs to develop consistency before he can start (Hansen is consistent but mediocre at best).
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