IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- With its inability to hold on to the ball, Michigan State may be unable to hold on to the top 25.
Glen Worley scored a career-high 29 points as Iowa took advantage of No. 20 Michigan State's sloppiness and pulled off a 68-64 Big Ten Conference victory.
Averaging 16 turnovers per contest, the Spartans (9-5, 1-1 Big Ten) coughed up possession 18 times en route to their third loss in four games. They had two turnovers in a three-possession sequence during the final minute.
"The last three losses, we've had similar problems, with turnovers and can't make free throws," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "When you lose by two or four points like this, there must be 100 things that go through my head about things we did wrong and should have done differently."
After taking its first lead of the second half, Michigan State turned over the ball and freshman Jeff Horner hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie it at 61-61 with 1:31 left.
Jared Reiner then stripped freshman Maurice Ager and Brody Boyd made two free throws with 58 seconds to go, giving Iowa (10-3, 2-0) the lead for good, 61-61.
Reiner and Horner combined to hit 7-of-8 foul shots in the final minute, helping the Hawkeyes to their second win in the last 10 meetings with the Spartans.
Iowa coach Steve Alford thought the keys to the game were toughness, transition and board play. While his team scrapped for every loose ball, it was beaten off the boards, 42-29, and in transition, 8-4.
"I thought we won two of those battles," said Alford, whose team made several of its 18 free throws off transition chances. "I thought we were great with our toughness and transition."
The Hawkeyes jumped to a 24-11 lead as Worley scored 14 of his team's first 20 points. He had only four points over the final 12-plus minutes of the first half and heard it from his coach at halftime.
"I probably challenged Glen Worley at halftime harder than I ever have," Alford said of his junior forward. "Part of his maturation process has been learning to play strong and score each half, and tonight he did that."
The Spartans used a 17-7 run to get within three and trailed 39-30 at halftime. They started the second half with a 9-2 burst before Worley caught fire again.
After Kelvin Torbert's dunk got Michigan State within 41-39, Worley hit consecutive 3-pointers. He also made a 3-pointer for a 57-49 lead with 8:03 left and completed a three-point play for a 60-54 edge with 5:47 remaining.
"His play today did surprise us a little," Izzo said of Worley, who was 10-of-16 from the field, 4-of-5 attempts from behind the arc. "But we knew coming in that he was one of the most improved players on this team."
The Spartans scored seven straight points to take their first lead since the opening three minutes of the game. Ager and Chris Hill both made 3-pointers before Torbert's free throw with 1:50 left made it 61-60.
"We fought hard and came back," Alford said. "To hold the lead against a team for all but one possession (in the second half) is tremendous."
Hill scored 18 points, all from 3-point range (6-of-11), and Ager added 14 off the bench for Michigan State, which shot 42 percent from the floor (25-of-59) and made only 6-of-14 free throws.
"We rebounded pretty well against a good rebounding team," Izzo said. "But of all the things, those turnovers disappoint me the most. And it stumps me why we aren't shooting free throws well."
In Thursday's 65-55 win over Ohio State, the Spartans made 26 consecutive free throws. They missed 3-of-4 in the closing two minutes against Iowa.
Other than Worley, the rest of the Hawkeyes were 12-of-34 from the field, 2-of-10 from 3-point range.