On December 29, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat then-No. 1 Michigan State, 83-70, in a game the Spartans played without their best player, Denzel Valentine. Iowa never trailed that game, but without Valentine, it was easy to put an asterisk on that victory.
No. 16 Iowa dismantled No. 4 Michigan State, 76-59, on Thursday. Valentine played, and the game was in East Lansing – but that didn’t stop the Hawkeyes from drilling nine three pointers in the first half to take a 47-25 lead into the break.
“We all came out ready to play,” Iowa guard Peter Jok said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We had nine days to get ready for them. I was feeling it early, so my team kept finding me. And so I was just playing with my pace and everything was falling. Both teams played great.”
Jok finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, as Iowa won in East Lansing for the first time since January 1993. The Hawkeyes actually shot better from outside the arc (10-of-22, 45.5 percent) than they did from inside it (18-of-43, 41.9 percent). Four Hawkeyes finished in double figures, including Jarrod Uthoff (15), Anthony Clemmons (13) and Dom Uhl (10).
“I’m proud of my guys,” Jok said. “We was making shots so we just kept shooting.”
Defensively, Iowa limited Michigan State to 4-of-21 (19.0 percent) shooting from three-point range and forced 16 turnovers.
“We’ve been focused on defense all year,” Jok said. “We can score with anybody, so our main focus has been defense. We wanted to go out there and do everything we can to get the win. We played great defense. We tried to keep their guys under their average, and I think we did that.”
Jok said he isn’t surprised that Iowa has beaten Michigan State twice – by a combined 30 points, no less. The Spartans (16-2) are 16-0 against the rest of America.
“They’re a great team, but we had great confidence that we was going to win,” Jok said. “As long as we take care of everything on defense, I think we’re going to be great on offense. I’m so proud of my guys.”
Jok, a junior from West Des Moines, has really enjoyed playing for Iowa.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s like a second home to me. I feel comfortable playing at Carver, and all my family gets to come. It’s like an hour-and-a-half away from where I live, so my family is always there to support me. It’s a great atmosphere. Everybody shows love. It’s great.”
Iowa (13-3) has won 10 of 11, including four of its last five against ranked teams. The Hawkeyes host Michigan (13-4) this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.
“We’re just going to keep working and getting better,” Jok said. “We got another great team coming in our building on Sunday. We just got to keep getting better every game and I’d say we’ll be good by the end of the season.”