EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nick Ward used his power to gain position and his touch to score, putting together a perfect game from the field.
Ward made all 10 of his shots, scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 10 Michigan State to a 90-68 win over No. 18 Iowa on Monday night.
“There’s not a lot I can yell at him about,” coach Tom Izzo said. “He did miss some free throws.”
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Ward, who was 6 of 11 from the line, was simply too much for the Hawkeyes to handle.
“He’s real physical down there and they were getting him on the high-low,” Iowa center Luka Garza said.
That type of offensive attack against a zone may have helped the Spartans when they lost to Syracuse in the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament.
The Spartans (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) trailed for more than six minutes in the first half and were behind by as much as six points before a Ward-led surge gave them a 43-33 lead at halftime.
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 0-2) had no hope for a comeback because they missed 19 of 20 shots to open the second half.
What went wrong?
“Pretty much everything,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman scored a career-high 14 points and had eight rebounds off the bench. Kenny Goins scored a career-high 19, surpassing his combined points from the previous five games, had a career-high seven assists and grabbed 12 rebounds. Joshua Langford added 14 for the Spartans.
Iowa’s Tyler Cook scored 15 points, Isaiah Moss had 13 points and Jordan Bohannon added 11.
The Hawkeyes, who came into the game averaging 82.6 points, made just 33 percent of their shots and allowed the Spartans to connect on 52 percent of their shots.
“We made it really difficult for them inside and out,” Tillman said.