While the Michigan State Spartans basketball team was down two points in the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-18), they picked up for an 11-point win in the second half. Gary Harris was able to find that sweet spot he likes in the corner outside the arc several times and picked up 18 points for his team during the game. Keith Appling was right behind Harris and took 14 points. The team really pulled together to win the game tonight.
Michigan State shot 44% tonight, making 20 of 45 field goal attempts, 60% for free throws (12-20) and 52% for 3-pointers (9-17). The Golden gophers only made 36% of their field goal attempts (18-49), 60% of free throws (9-15), and 29% of 3-pointers (5-17). The Spartans could have picked up their offensive rebound numbers tonight, but at least they kept their turnovers low – 5 compared with Minnesota’s 12.
In the first minutes of the second half, the game was back and forth. Each time Michigan State scored, Minnesota was right there to answer. It wasn’t long, however before the Spartans broke away with a lead when Denzel Valentine grabbed three points to bring the score to 30-27. The Spartans took a 19-4 run to bring the Spartans in the lead 39-29.
It was also a night for injuries. Adreian Payne left for the locker room when a bloody nose cropped up midway through the second half. He returned to the game shortly thereafter and became an asset on the free throw line. Payne wrapped up the game with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and no fouls.
Brandon Dawson was on fire with the steals, scoring twice after making a fast break. He was responsible for 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 fouls in this game.
Nix also was on fire with the steals – there were 9 altogether for the Spartans to night, compared with 2 for the Gophers – and he was the sixth highest scorer in the game with 6 points. Denzel Valentine took 8 points off the bench.
For the Gophers, Andre Hollins, Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams Jr., Austin Hollins, and Joe Coleman played hard. However, Andre Hollins and Mbakwe both scored under their averages for this game. Andre Hollins scored 11 points and Mbakwe scored only 9 – though he did gain 14 rebounds during the course of the game.
In a heart-wrenching moment 1:35 from the end of the game, Appling doubled over holding his shoulder and moved to the sideline. It appeared that he may have dislocated his shoulder, and he went to the locker room. By the end of the game, he was on the bench and smiling, though this valuable player did not return to the game. Payne scored the last two points of the game at the line, bringing the score to 61-50 in what was a very physical and raw game for the Spartans and Gophers.
The next game for the Michigan State Spartans will be Saturday, February 9 against the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network, and I will be on both Twitter and Spartan Avenue live blogging the game.