for this game

No. 24 Michigan St opens Big Ten schedule at Iowa

Jan 4, 2007 - 4:39 PM No. 24 Michigan State (13-2) at Iowa (8-6) 9:05 pm EST

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- A sturdy defense and a commitment to rebounding enabled Michigan State to win all seven games in December.

The 24th-ranked Spartans try to keep their winning ways alive Thursday when they open their Big Ten Conference schedule against Iowa.

In setting a regular-season school record for non-conference victories (13), Michigan State has limited its opponents to 36.6 percent shooting from the floor and 54.9 points, while blocking an average of 5.8 shots. The Spartans also top the conference in rebound margin (9.8).

Goran Sutton scored a career-high 27 points and Marquise Gray added 19 with 11 rebounds for Michigan State, which held Loyola of Maryland to 35 percent (18-of-51) shooting in Saturday's 74-61 triumph.

Iowa coach Steve Alford can record his 300th coaching victory Thursday. In his 16th season, he is 299-175 overall and 143-98 in eight campaigns with the Hawkeyes, who have won three in a row.

Adam Haluska made 6-of-9 from the arc and scored 29 points and Tyler Smith added 18 for Iowa in Saturday's 65-50 triumph over Cornell. The Hawkeyes forced 20 turnovers and shot nearly 56 percent (25-of-45).