INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan State could do little wrong against Iowa in the first half, and that's all it took for the eighth-ranked Spartans to move into the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
Shooting 70 per cent from the field over the first 20 minutes, Michigan State cruised to a 92-75 victory over the Hawkeyes on Friday, with Draymond Green leading the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds."In the halfcourt, they were pounding it inside," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We went from man to zone, back to man and back to zone. There's not much more you can do. We pressed a little bit, but we give up a lot of size to them."Michigan State (25-7) led 55-39 at the break after scoring on all but nine of their possessions. Adreian Payne chipped in with a career-high 16 points, Keith Appling had 12 points and six assists and Brandon Wood added 10 points.When it was over, top-seeded Michigan State shot 58 per cent from the field, and looks ready to go on one of its usual March runs in the NCAA tournament."What did impress me today was our passing and or unselfishness for three-fourths of that game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.The Spartans will play Wisconsin (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) on Saturday, as the Badgers defeated No. 15 Indiana 79-71 in another quarterfinal Friday.Izzo said he needs his defense to improve if the wins are to continue."You have to be able to defend and rebound in this tournament because you don't have many 90-point games in the NCAA tournament or this kind of tournament," he said. "I think we did that pretty well most of the time."Josh Oglesby scored 20 points for Iowa (17-16). Zach McCabe and Roy Devyn Marble added 13 points each for the Hawkeyes, who defeated Illinois on Thursday. Iowa entered Friday's game having won four of six games, including wins against Indiana and Wisconsin.But the Hawkeyes faced a significant size disadvantage against the Spartans. The Hawkeyes didn't grab their first offensive rebound until 2:39 remained in the first half, and they lost the overall rebounding matchup 36-24.Michigan State played its first game without forward Branden Dawson, a freshman who tore a left knee ligament in the regular-season finale against Ohio State.The Spartans didn't need him against the Hawkeyes, who have the Big Ten's worst defense. Michigan State defeated Iowa 95-61 on Jan. 10, and this one wasn't much different.A reverse layup by Derrick Nix, then a putback by Green on Nix's missed free throw put Michigan State up 26-22 midway through the first half. A 3-pointer by Payne pushed the lead to 31-22 and forced Iowa to call timeout.Three Spartans scored in double figures in the first half, with Payne's 12 points leading the way. Payne came into the game averaging just under seven points.Iowa made 12 of 26 shots overall and 5 of 11 3-pointers in the first half, a respectable showing that normally would keep a team competitive. But Michigan State left little margin for error. The Spartans led by as many as 28 points in the second half."We played really hard," McCaffery said. "I thought at the start of the game, we came out the right way. We had a good beginning, but I thought it got away from us there a little bit in the second half."It was a good bounce-back game for the Spartans, who closed the regular season with losses to Indiana and Ohio State."Coach reminded us before the game," Green said. "I forgot that we had two losses in a row. It's a brand new season. I just completely forgot about it, knowing that we were 0-0. We're 1-0 now and one step closer."