Sharing and caring have turned the Iowa Hawkeyes into a Top 10 team.
The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes entered the week leading all Division I programs in assists per game (21.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.11). They will carry a four-game winning streak into their home game against a desperate Michigan State team on Thursday.
Iowa (11-2, 5-1 Big Ten) relied on its typically unselfish play to pull away from then-No. 16 Minnesota on Sunday. The Hawkeyes assisted in 27 of 31 made field goals and shot 55.4 percent from the field in an 86-71 triumph.
Jordan Bohannon kept his teammates happy with a career-high 14 assists.
"I haven't seen many stat lines like Jordan Bohannon had (Sunday): 19 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
The biggest beneficiary of the ball movement is Luka Garza, who is averaging 27.6 points and is a prime candidate for National Player of the Year.
"Our guards are really unselfish," Garza said. "They push the ball and are looking for others. When we get out in transition, that's when we are at our best. ... When we're pushing that fast, they can't adjust to that."
Garza decided in early August to withdraw his name from the NBA draft and return for his senior year. The camaraderie among the players made that decision easier for him.
"It's the reason I came back, to be a part of this group," Garza said. "We've got a lot of guys in here that are unselfish and want to win. Everybody in the locker room is worried about one thing, and that's winning. We don't care how it happens, who scores or doesn't, who has an off night and who doesn't."
That sense of purpose has made it easier for McCaffrey as well.
"Our guys have really been locked in, cheering for their teammates, encouraging them, and that's what winning teams do," he said.
The Spartans (8-4, 2-4) briefly got headed back in the right direction after opening Big Ten play with three consecutive losses. They won their next two games but then squandered a 17-point lead to Purdue on Friday and took an agonizing 55-54 defeat.
That dropped the former Top 5 team completely out of the rankings.
"There is no need to hang our heads. It's still early in the season," Spartans guard Joshua Langford said. "I believe we have a great basketball team, we can do a lot of high-level things."
One thing Michigan State hasn't done at a high level lately is hold onto the ball. The Spartans committed 14 turnovers against the Boilermakers, including a key giveaway on an inbounds play in the closing seconds. Michigan State had 18 turnovers against Rutgers in its previous outing.
"We can't play much harder than we played (against Purdue), but playing hard is only part of the job," coach Tom Izzo said. "You've got to play hard, you've got to play good, you've got to play smart, and turnovers have been a problem in the last two games. Our turnovers weren't caused by their defense as much as they were caused by just some foolish plays."
The Spartans committed only 11 turnovers and shot 50 percent from the field in their last meeting with Iowa, a 78-70 win last February.
--Field Level Media