Gophers open Big Ten schedule with big victory over Michigan State

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 7:22 AM

Michigan State outhustled and outmuscled Minnesota in the past, but the Gophers matched that effort and finished with a flourish in the Big Ten opener.

view larger photos


The Big Ten men's basketball season is back, and its cache of competition perhaps better than ever, but this Gophers team seems suited to the challenge.

It battles physically; it's full of mental toughness; it comes up big in defining moments.

A year ago, the Gophers were a team with no leaders, but this year nearly anyone in the starting lineup can assume that role.

On Monday, Minnesota got monster performances from sophomore point guard Andre Hollins and senior forward Trevor Mbakwe, who looked as explosive as he has all season in playing without his brace for the first time, as the Gophers overcame a somewhat sloppy second half and powered past No. 18 Michigan State 76-63 at Williams Arena.

With the Gophers leading 64-63 with three minutes remaining in the game, Hollins took over. The sophomore point guard instigated a 12-0 finishing run -- part of a suffocating 18-2 stretch over the final seven minutes -- that featured six points from himself as well as an impressive play by Austin Hollins and Mbakwe, who snatched a steal, then started a three-pass back-and-forth break with Hollins, who finished it with a slam to put Minnesota up by seven as the energy swelled from the announced crowd of 14,625.

"These last three or four years, we had Michigan State beat and they came back and beat us in the last couple minutes," said Mbakwe, who notched his third double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds. "We didn't want that to happen again. But this team is tough. This is a special team. We can go pretty far."

The Gophers (13-1) are providing convincing evidence of Mbakwe's claims. They moved up two spots in the Associated Press poll -- to No. 9 nationally -- only minutes before tipoff, and they validated that position by jumping out to a 25-16 lead. They got out in transition, thrived in the half-court offense and matched the toughness and physicality of Michigan State (11-3). They outrebounded the Spartans 38-24 and outshot them 56.6 to 44.4 percent from the field.

"We knew we had to come out and answer the call of Michigan State," said Andre Hollins, who finished with 22 points and six assists. "We knew they were a tough, physical team because of last year. Joe [Coleman] and I, we talked about how aggressive they were. We were like 'Gosh, they play so hard.' But we knew what we had to do. That goes to the year of experience."

Minnesota controlled play for most of the first half, extending its lead to 12 at 37-25 on an Andre Hollins three-pointer with 4:57 left, but the Spartans regrouped. They went on a 13-2 run led by sophomore guard Travis Trice, who hit three three-pointers in that stretch, the last of which at the halftime buzzer narrowed the deficit to 39-38.

In the second half, the Spartans picked up their defense and the Gophers' offense stalled for extended stretches. Minnesota turned over the ball seven times in the first 7:42, which Michigan State cashed in for seven points. Missed free throws and an excruciating issue with botched in-bounds plays only compounded the Gophers' second-half woes as they allowed the Spartans to climb back into the game and take their first lead at 53-51 on a layup by Branden Dawson 5:24 into the second.

But the Gophers regrouped, coming out of a TV timeout full of energy but trailing 64-63, and throttled the Spartans with a dominating finish.

"That's what's going to get us through this season -- our defense," Andre Hollins said.

  • related content

  • Scoggins: Gophers fail to panic under stress

    Tuesday January 1, 2013

    Tubby Smith insists he's not a fan of using pregame motivational "gimmicks," but his coaching staff turned to one before Monday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State.

  • Postgame: Gophers start out Big Ten season with a win

    Tuesday January 1, 2013

    Trevor Mbakwe and Andre Hollins had monster performances for Minnesota in the win.

  • Gophers-Michigan State game recap

    Monday December 31, 2012

    The sophomore guard scored a game-high 22 points, with six of them coming during a closing 12-0 run in the final 2:54 to snuff out Michigan State's hopes of a...

  • Chart: A change of course for Gophers vs. Michigan State

    Monday December 31, 2012

    • The Gophers ended a four-game overall losing streak against Michigan State as well as a five-game home losing streak to the Spartans.

  • University of Minnesota, Gophers mens basketball vs Michigan State at...


    Up next: 6 p.m. Sunday vs. Northwestern • Williams Arena • TV: BTN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 Bottom 8th Inning
Arizona 2
Boston 16 2nd Qtr
Cleveland 29
LA Lakers 30 2nd Qtr
Charlotte 27
Sacramento 22 1st Qtr 2:58
New York 15
Houston 6:30 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Washington 7:00 PM
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Nashville 0 1st Prd 3:48
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 1st Prd 5:30
Philadelphia 0
Washington 1 1st Prd 4:25
Columbus 0
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Toronto 6:30 PM
Ottawa 7:00 PM
NY Islanders 7:30 PM
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Los Angeles 8:30 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Ole Miss 22 1st Half 4:03
Alabama 27
Eastern Mich 24 1st Half 6:48
Ball State 15
Kent State 21 1st Half 6:50
Bowling Green 23
Ohio 25 1st Half 4:05
Buffalo 33
Georgetown 20 1st Half 6:09
Butler 20
Toledo 24 1st Half 5:06
Central Mich 22
Rhode Island 20 1st Half 7:46
Dayton 20
Youngstown St 22 1st Half 7:35
Detroit 21
North Carolina 34 1st Half 4:40
Georgia Tech 15
Loyola-Maryland 4 1st Half 16:42
Holy Cross 9
Iowa 19 1st Half 8:56
Indiana 20
Akron 13 1st Half 6:59
Miami-Ohio 15
Army 17 1st Half 7:57
Navy 18
Maryland 21 1st Half 5:58
Rutgers 20
Kennesaw St 10 1st Half 8:28
USC Upstate 23
Jacksonville 19 1st Half 10:00
Fla Gulf Coast 21
Lipscomb 16 1st Half 7:48
Northern Ky 16
Stetson 6:30 PM
North Florida
Wright State 7:00 PM
Western Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Houston Baptist 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
NC State 8:00 PM
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Kentucky 8:00 PM
West Virginia 8:00 PM
Auburn 8:00 PM
Michigan 8:00 PM
Villanova 8:15 PM
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 44 2nd Half 6:10
UNC-Asheville 52
NJIT 14 1st Half 5:40
UMass Lowell 21
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Kansas State
TCU 7:00 PM
Fresno State 8:00 PM
Air Force
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 8:00 PM
Colorado State
UNLV 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question