East Lansing, MI – Raymar Morgan scored 16 points and Michigan State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) remained unbeaten in Big Ten play by holding off Iowa's furious comeback bid in a 70-63 victory Wednesday night.
The Spartans led by 19 midway through the second half before Iowa got back into it. Matt Gatens hit a 3-pointer with 2:05 left to cut the deficit to 64-61, but the Hawkeyes couldn't get any closer.
Michigan State (16-3, 6-0 Big Ten) is off to its best conference start in 15 seasons under coach Tom Izzo. The last Spartans team to open 7-0 in league play was the 1977-78 squad led by Magic Johnson.
Durrell Summers had 12 points for Michigan State, and Kalin Lucas added 11. The Spartans have won seven straight since losing to Texas on Dec. 22.
Gatens scored 17 points for Iowa (7-12, 1-5). Aaron Fuller had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Every other team in the Big Ten already has at least two losses this season. But the quest for the conference title is about to get tougher for Michigan State. Six of the Spartans' next eight games are on the road, starting with trips to Minnesota and Michigan.
Iowa had beaten Tennessee State and Penn State since losing to Michigan State 71-53 in Iowa City on Jan. 9. But the young Hawkeyes, with only two upperclassmen on their active roster, could not come all the way back in this one.
Michigan State was sluggish early, particularly on defense. Iowa jumped out to a 19-14 lead midway through the first half, making eight of its first 13 shots from the floor.
Michigan State scored the next 15 points, capped by Lucas' 3-pointer and Morgan's dunk, to take a 29-19 lead with 6:30 left in the half.
The 5-minute scoreless streak cost the Hawkeyes, who trailed 35-23 at halftime.
Michigan State led 55-36 midway through the second half. But the patient, determined Hawkeyes wouldn't fold.
The 3-pointer by Gatens cut the lead to three. Korie Lucious scored on a driving layup to put Michigan State ahead 66-61 with 1:33 left.
The Hawkeyes cut the lead to three again with 17 seconds left on two free throws from Jarryd Cole, but never got a chance to tie it. Lucas and Draymond Green made free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Michigan State out rebounded Iowa 41-33. Green had 11 rebounds to go with nine points.