EAST LANSING — Michigan State basketball did what no other team this season has been able to do: contain Iowa’s Luka Garza.
But it was yet another dubious first in a long season of them for the Spartans: Tom Izzo’s worst home loss in 26 seasons.
One after by one, the Hawkeyes buried 3-pointer after 3-pointer and neutralized the Spartans in the first 10 minutes of No. 16 Iowa’s 88-58 victory Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center.
It was another ugly loss for MSU (10-8, 4-8 Big Ten), its third by more 25 or more points and fifth by double digits. Izzo’s previous worst home defeat came Jan. 4, 1997 to Minnesota.
The Spartans also had their two-game win streak snapped as they prepare to travel to No. 25 Purdue on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN). Gabe Brown scored 15, Aaron Henry 13 and Joshua Langford 11 for MSU, which shot just 35.5% overall and made just 6 of 21 3-point attempts.
To compound matters, Rocket Watts did not return from the locker room after halftime. A team spokesman said he did not return “for health and safety precautions” after scoring just three points on 1 of 5 shooting in 10 first-half minutes as MSU trailed, 46-27, at intermission.
Izzo promised the past few days to rotate a number of defenders “and the kitchen sink” to defend Garza, the nation’s leading scorer entering Saturday at 25.3 points and who scored 27 in Iowa’s 84-78 home win over MSU on Feb. 2.
The Spartans this time sent double- and triple-teams at the 6-foot-11 senior center. That strategy worked on Garza, who finished with a season-low eight points on 3 of 11 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds, but failed overall.
After Garza’s three-point play stopped MSU’s 4-0 start, the Hawkeyes took full advantage of the space on the perimeter to bury the Spartans quickly from 3-point range. Keegan Murray, Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery hit from deep to give Iowa the lead for good. Then Joe Wieskamp hit a pair as the Hawkeyes hit built their lead to 13 points and forced Izzo to call timeout.
The Hawkeyes made 8 of their first 11 and finished with 13 for the game, shooting 49.2% overall and 52% from 3-point range. They had five players — none of them Garza — hit 3-pointers, led by five from Wieskamp among his 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting.
Jack Nunge added 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Hawkeyes (14-6, 8-5), while McCaffery hit four 3-pointers and scored 16.
Henry’s aggressiveness and Langford’s steadiness were the only sign of life. Brown scored 10 of his 15 in the second half when the game had been decided.
Watts was a nonfactor in his limited time. Joey Hauser continued to battle foul trouble and missing shots, scoring nine points on 4 of 12 attempts with seven rebounds. The rest of MSU’s post players — Malik Hall, Marcus Bingham Jr., Thomas Kithier, Julius Marble and Mady Sissoko — combined for six points and 13 rebounds.
MSU got outrebounded, 46-37.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball’s worst home loss under Izzo, 88-58 to Iowa