Iowa defense shines heading into Purdue

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By Luke Meredith

DES MOINES, Iowa- Iowa caught Michigan State on a night when the Spartans couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

Think coach Todd Lickliter is ready to give the win back? Not a chance.

Lickliter is a realist about Iowa’s 43-36 win over Michigan State last Saturday. The Spartans tied a school record for offensive futility in the shot-clock era, and Lickliter readily acknowledges that the Spartans went cold in a manner rarely seen on the Division I level. But he also knows that the Hawkeyes desperately needed to win after three straight losses.

Iowa’s defense clamped down on the Spartans over the final 28 minutes, helping nudge them out of rhythm offensively. Iowa (8-9, 1-3 Big Ten) hopes to get back to .500 on Wednesday when it hosts Purdue (11-5, 2-1).

“Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?” Lickliter said. “I thought it was lovely … if you can somehow get the game played in a way that benefits you, I think that takes a lot of effort.”

Iowa’s victory over Michigan State ended a four-game stretch in which the Hawkeyes played three top 25 teams and a fourth, Ohio State, that thumped them by 31 points.

The loss to the Buckeyes was seen by Lickliter as a turning point: Iowa could either crumble or they could respond.

The Hawkeyes chose the latter.

“We defended with purpose. I don’t think we can take all the credit for that. I think Michigan State obviously had their struggles, and we were fortunate in that regard,” Lickliter said. “But we were able to come up with a big win.”

Lickliter said the key for Iowa is to stay poised defensively.