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Gesell took the shot he wanted; it just missed

[ 0 ] January 28, 2014 |

Four-point-four seconds doesn’t leave a lot of time for indecision.

Mike Gesell knew that when he caught the ball near half court with the seconds ticking down and Iowa trailing Michigan State by two Tuesday.

So instead of thinking, Gesell just went.

Gesell got exactly what he was looking for — a decent look at the basket. But his running layup was off the mark as time expired and Iowa fell to the No. 7 Spartans 71-69 in overtime at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“In that situation, you just have to get a decent look at the basket, and coach drew up a pretty good play,” Gesell said. “I thought I could get to the hoop. I just wasn’t able to finish it.”

The fact that the game came down to Gesell’s last-second shot showed just how wild Tuesday’s top-15 showdown between Big Ten heavyweights was.

Michigan State appeared to have the game in hand when a 3-pointer by Russell Byrd with 34 seconds left gave the Spartans a 70-64 lead.

However, Michigan State missed three free throws in the final 11 seconds, including two by Keith Appling with 4.4 seconds left, that gave Iowa a chance.

Following Appling’s second miss, Gesell caught a pass from Aaron White near half court and went straight to the basket.

“The only thing Mike could have done differently was maybe try to go a little more to the basket. He kind of floated away from the defender and tried to get it in,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I won’t fault (Gesell) there, you are in situation where you are down six and all of sudden you are laying the ball up at the buzzer to put it in a second overtime. I thought he made a pretty good play there.”

McCaffery said he was comfortable with the thought of sending the game to another overtime but told his team to take a 3-pointer to win the game if it was there.

“What we said was, ‘If he misses the second free throw, we will take a 2, we’ll go into double overtime and we’ll shoot the 3 if it’s there,’ ” McCaffery said. “I think once he had a head of steam, he was going, ‘I think it would have been a hard pull-up 3.’ ”

Gesell’s layup didn’t miss by much and neither did No. 15 Iowa (16-5, 5-3), which led by six with less than six minutes to play in the second half.

However, Michigan State (19-2, 8-1) used a 9-2 second-half run to take a 60-59 lead and survived a hectic final few seconds to force overtime.

Devyn Marble had a chance to win the game in regulation, but the driving layup with two seconds left was off the mark and Melsahn Basabe missed a put-back from point-blank range.

“We wanted to put the ball in Marble’s hands there. He is the guy,” McCaffery said.

In overtime, Michigan State took a 65-64 lead on a free throw by Matt Costello with 1:47 left and never trailed again despite a defensive miscue on the final play.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he instructed his team to foul if Appling would have made his final free-throw attempt to push the lead to three.

When Appling’s free throw missed, Izzo wanted a double team on the outlet pass following the rebound.

“We wanted Byrd to double the pass, and he kind of got in Keith’s because he’s not as quick,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of the final play. “Give Gesell credit, he almost turned the corner on that thing.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

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