Ward made all 10 of his shots, scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 10 Michigan State to a 90-68 win over No. 18 Iowa on Monday night.
"There's not a lot I can yell at him about," coach Tom Izzo said. "He did miss some free throws."
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Ward, who was 6 of 11 from the line, was simply too much for the Hawkeyes to handle.
"He's real physical down there and they were getting him on the high-low," Iowa center Luka Garza said.
That type of offensive attack against a zone may have helped the Spartans when they lost to Syracuse in the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament.
"We've been working on it all season," Ward said. "Since the Syracuse game, we've done that every day."
The Spartans (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) trailed for more than six minutes in the first half and were behind by as much as six points before a Ward-led surge gave them a 43-33 lead at halftime.
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 0-2) had no hope for a comeback because they missed 19 of 20 shots to open the second half.
What went wrong?
"Pretty much everything," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Michigan State's Xavier Tillman scored a career-high 14 points and had eight rebounds off the bench. Kenny Goins scored a career-high 19, surpassing his combined points from the previous five games, had a career-high seven assists and grabbed 12 rebounds. Joshua Langford added 14 for the Spartans.
Iowa's Tyler Cook scored 15 points, Isaiah Moss had 13 points and Jordan Bohannon added 11.
The Hawkeyes, who came into the game averaging 82.6 points, made just 33 percent of their shots and allowed the Spartans to connect on 52 percent of their shots.
"We made it really difficult for them inside and out," Tillman said.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes opened the season with six wins, including one against then-No. 13 Oregon, but have opened the Big Ten season with two straight losses. They lost to No. 22 Wisconsin 72-66 in their conference opener. Iowa will need to regain some confidence soon.
"They're a lot better than they played," Izzo said.
Michigan State: The Spartans have won games by making a lot of shots from the outside, but they were determined to take advantage of their strength inside with Ward and Tillman and the plan paid off.
Iowa: Joe Wieskamp left the game midway through the second half with an injured right ankle after scoring eight points.
McCaffery said it was too early to determine if the freshman guard, who averages 10 points, will play Thursday night against Iowa State.
Michigan State: Matt McQuaid missed a third straight game with a bruised thigh after going through warmups.
"It's a bruise, not a broken leg, but it was a severe bruise," Izzo said, adding he didn't know if senior guard would be cleared to play Saturday against Florida.
Kyle Ahrens walked off the court late in the first half, holding his right hip, but was able to play in the second half.
Ward became the fifth player in program history to make at least 10 shots without a miss and the first since Alan Anderson was also 10 for 10 on Feb 24, 2005, against Wisconsin. Ron Charles was a school-record 12 of 12 on Jan. 24, 1980, against Michigan.
"It's funny, I didn't know I was 10 for 10 until the coaches came in the locker room," Ward said. "I thought I missed a shot."
Ward did miss a shot, but he was fouled and the attempt from the field didn't count.
SHARING THE BALL
Michigan State made 31 shots, 28 of which were set up by assists.
"That's unbelievable," Izzo said.
The Spartans, the highest-ranked team with two losses, slipped one spot in this week's AP Top 25 and may have a chance to move up if teams ahead of them lose.
Iowa: Host the rival Cyclones on Thursday night.
Michigan State: Plays at Florida on Saturday.