Michigan State basketball lost 76-63 to Minnesota at Williams Arena today. The opener to Big Ten conference didn’t go exactly like the Spartans wanted it to.
The first half consisted of runs by both teams. Minnesota was twice up by 10 points or more and the Spartans were able to fight back both times. Keith Appling got into quick foul trouble, which hurt the Spartans ability to score. Travis Trice filled in admirably though and hit three important three-pointer’s to keep the Spartans close. The Spartans were handled physically, and Minnesota
was able to establish their dominance in the paint. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix were held to a combined 3 for 14 from the field.
Keith Appling really stepped up in the second half, facilitating but also scoring. Appling’s defense was also stellar and he finished with six steals. Gary Harris was quietly having a good game as well. Still, Minnesota played physical and Andre Hollins was having a nice game. Hollins finished with 22 points and 6 assists. The real key to the game was that Nix and Payne were severely outplayed by Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe. Once the Gophers gained control of the interior Appling, Harris, and Dawson became jump shooters and the Spartans couldn’t knock enough shots down to win. Appling’s and Harris’s decent performances were matched and trumped by the Hollins brother’s performances.
Though not the start the Spartans were hoping for there is no reason to panic. Minnesota is a quality team and the game was away. The Spartans need to improve on the interior if they want to beat the elite teams in the Big Ten. Hopefully Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix are able to step up, or it could be a long season for the Spartans.