Gophers drop to .500 in the Big Ten with loss to Spartans

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 7, 2013 - 5:37 AM

The U's modest two-game win streak ended with a venture away from Williams Arena.

hide

Michigan State's Keith Appling shoots a 3-pointer against Minnesota's Andre Hollins (1).

Photo: Al Goldis, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

EAST LANSING, MICH. - Coming in, the ramifications were obvious: This was the one that could change things around.

If the Gophers men's basketball team wins at No. 12 Michigan State, it makes a recent turnaround legitimate and creates the foundation for the start of something good. But if it loses, it is tagged a team that remains a notch below the Big Ten elite.

While the No. 18 Gophers (17-6, 5-5 Big Ten) threatened late in the game, they allowed the momentum to reverse so quickly it seemed as though it never existed in a 61-50 loss to the 12th-ranked Spartans (19-4, 8-2).

Kind of feels like an analogy for the season.

The Gophers fell back to .500 in the conference, a disappointing destination considering the early hype and 3-0 start. From here, the road gets only tougher, the challenge of creating that foundation more difficult.

"We still believe," senior forward Trevor Mbakwe said. "It's going to be tough, but we're looking forward to it, and we still have high confidence."

Maybe so, and it's not impossible -- for the Gophers have certainly shown sparks -- but considering the concerning trends that have plagued the Gophers all season, it's starting to look less and less likely, and those involved are looking more and more frustrated.

After overcoming one gap in the first half, the Gophers found themselves in a 12-point hole midway through the second. Again, they rallied back, reaching within four points on an Austin Hollins free throw with 2:48 to go.

But just as it had earlier in the half, the Minnesota offense stalled, allowing the Spartans to finish on a resounding 12-3 run to seal the victory in front of the announced crowd of 14,797 at the Breslin Center.

"When you give up easy baskets, just throw the ball to the guy, those are just back-breakers, it takes all the wind out of it," Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. "It's like getting punched in the gut."

The Spartans initially broke open a seven-point lead in a cold-shooting first half by both teams but then watched as Minnesota went on an 8-0 run to retake the lead and keep the 20-18 advantage at the break. Rodney Williams (nine points, four rebounds in the game) and Mbakwe (nine points, 14 rebounds) starting working more efficiently inside until Mbakwe was fouled hard, falling on his rehabbing right wrist. He played the remainder of the game with his wrist taped.

In the second half, a flurry of three-pointers (Michigan State made nine overall, including four from Gary Harris, who was returning from back spasms) put the Gophers back into a hole despite their limiting forwards Derrick Nix and Branden Dawson to a combined 13 points.

In trying to react to the Spartans' increased defense in the paint, the Gophers instead played a stiff, sloppy offense, turning the ball over 12 times overall, which Michigan State cashed in for 19 points.

Afterward, a clearly frustrated Andre Hollins seemed out of answers for a team that has made poor ball-handling a habit, and one of the most obvious sources of their five losses.

"We beat ourselves again, that's it -- that's all I'll say," he said. "I think we just need to get some continuity going offensively. We're just standing around sometimes and I guess we're getting well- scouted, I guess that's it. And I don't know."

  • (12) MICHIGAN STATE 61, (18) GOPHERS 50

    Up next: 5 p.m. Sunday vs. Illinois • Williams Arena • TV: Big Ten Network (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
NY Mets 3 Top 8th Inning
Washington 3
LA Angels 1 Top 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Colorado 8:05 PM
Texas
Oakland 9:05 PM
San Francisco
Indiana 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd :50
Carolina 2
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 1:52
Washington 1
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd
NY Islanders 0
Arizona 1 1st Prd :14
Buffalo 1
Anaheim 0 1st Prd 3:05
Boston 0
Nashville 1 1st Prd 16:12
Tampa Bay 0
San Jose 1 1st Prd 16:32
Detroit 0
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 17:09
Ottawa 0
Florida 0 1st Prd 15:47
Toronto 0
Montreal 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Wichita State 22 1st Half 7:22
Notre Dame 25
North Carolina 6:47 PM
Wisconsin
Evansville 7:30 PM
Louisiana
West Virginia 8:45 PM
Kentucky
Xavier 9:17 PM
Arizona
St Johns 26 2nd Half
Villanova 28
NC State 35 1st Half 0:59
Temple 25
Missouri 33 2nd Half
Michigan 28
Oral Roberts 35 1st Half 1:26
Louisiana 19
Duquesne 21 2nd Half
West Virginia 35
Ole Miss 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
UCLA
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite team in the NCAA men's hockey tournament?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close