IOWA CITY — In the dying seconds of Saturday afternoon’s game against Michigan State, Iowa State’s men’s basketball three-point shooting came alive…a welcome sight compared to the previous two outings.
After a 6-for-52 stretch, the biggest question looming over Saturday’s contest was clear: Can Iowa break its recent shooting slump?
The answer was yes and the catalyst was Peyton Sandvoort. His six three-pointers sparked an improbable Hawk comeback that ended in a 112-106 victory over Michigan State. For the game, Iowa shot 47% (17-for-36) from long range.
Al Hockey made a furious comeback attempt in the last 30 seconds. A 3-pointer barrage by Chris Murray, Connor McCaffrey and Patrick McCaffrey held Iowa to 4 or fewer points on three separate occasions. Finally, after Michigan State got its first missed free throw of the half, Sandvoort connected on his third third-pointer of the day with three seconds remaining to send it into overtime.
Iowa trailed by 13 points with 90 seconds left in the game, and by 10 points with 41 seconds left in the game.
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Five Hawkeys have finished in double figures: Philip Rybraca (18), Murray (26), Sandvoort (22), Tony Perkins (24) and Connor McCaffrey (10). Michigan shooting 63% from the field was hard to beat, but Iowa showed enough resilience down the stretch.
With the win, Iowa improved to 18-11 overall, 10-8 in Big Ten play and picked up a much needed win.
Hawkeye fans have been waiting anxiously to see if their presence will inspire better perimeter shooting. After two bad fumbles, forward Conor McCaffrey connected on a three-pointer at the 14:47 mark of the first period to give Iowa a 15-12 advantage. However, three straight errors followed and shooting problems continued.
Instead of a 3-pointer, Iowa relied on Rebraca as a consistent source of offense. The fifth year player opened the game on a 5-for-5 start from the field (all within the first 10 minutes of play) and Iowa cruised to a 5-point lead midway through the first half. The Hawkeyes then find the source of constant gunfire from Sandvoort.
Sandvoort’s three-pointers accounted for half of Iowa’s total in the first half. Iowa’s 38% from long range was a welcome sight (typically a team shooting 36% at home) but was overshadowed by the sharp shooting from the Spartans, who shot 75% depth in the first half.
more:Iowa’s cold road woes continue to result in a painful loss for Wisconsin
Michigan State’s efficiency from the floor (63% from the field in the first half) was balanced by timely scoring that allowed neither team to seize momentum. Sandfort scored a 3-pointer at the 7:29 mark in the first half, Iowa State took a 5-point lead, and Michigan State’s Joey Hauser responded with 3 points on the next possession. Ahron Ulis’ 3-pointer at the 1:59 mark gave Iowa a 4-point lead that was promptly cut to 1 on the Spartans’ next possession. A pair of Rebraca free throws gave Iowa a 42-39 lead with one minute left in the first half, and Michigan State served a 3-pointer with six seconds left to tie the game.
Michigan State’s hot shooting continued into the opening minutes of the second half. The Spartans opened the half with a 6-for-8 start from the field, and took a 58-52 lead with about 15 minutes to play.
And Iowa’s offense was healthier in the second half, led by Perkins, who hit a 3-pointer early on to keep up with Michigan State’s shooting. But another match with poor defensive cycles produced an open appearance for the opposing team.
But in the end, Iowa’s clutch shooting overtook the Spartans. All it took was Michigan State wasting a free throw for Iowa to take advantage and force overtime. And in the overtime period, the Hawkeyes took control of the game offensively with a 9-3 advantage with 6 points from Perkins.
more:Amid the shooting slump, Iowa men’s basketball is prioritizing staying in the tournament as the best therapy
Iowa’s back-to-back losses caused unrest within the fanbase as the regular season drew to a close, but Saturday’s victory cemented the Hawkeyes as an NCAA Tournament team. Road struggles and defensive breakdowns remain valid concerns, but Ewa’s ability to stay in matches should not be underestimated.
What does Saturday’s loss mean for Iowa men’s basketball?
Drops in the NET rankings by Illinois (down to No. 32) and Seton Hall (down to No. 78) meant that Iowa entered Saturday with two wins short of a quadruple and down to just four. Michigan State’s game on Saturday was in quadruple district 2 as Iowa’s record improved to 8-2.
Inside the Big Ten, Iowa improved to 10-8 in conference play. Rutgers (9-8) and Penn State (8-9) play each other on Sunday and Wisconsin (8-9), which owns the tiebreaker over Iowa, plays Michigan on Sunday.
Iowa’s next game is at No. 17 Indiana on Tuesday, which is a four-way contest.
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