Third time was the charm for Minnesota as they take out Michigan State 63-58 here in Washington DC at the Big Ten Tournament!
The Michigan State Spartans had beaten Minnesota twice this year. But they couldn’t make it a trifecta of success here in the nation’s capital as they lost to the Golden Gophers 63-58. It was a bitter loss for the Spartans that for the first time all year showed hurt and pain in the post-game locker room.
Michigan State shot only 32% on the night while the Gophers hit 41%. Brutal to the Spartans chances at success was that they were six of thirty (20%) from the three. MSU was not great, but had a manageable 12 turnovers and won the battle of the boards 41-36.
An upset Tom Izzo said afterward, “I've been very proud of this team the last 10-12 games. I have to admit, I was disappointed today. I do not think we competed with the same grit. I was worried about how my young guys would react to a half-a-day prep.”
He went on to add, “So either the coaches did a bad job, or we just didn't play with the same spunk we played with. We did a decent James Blake in the first half of staying on the boards. That was the only way we stayed in the game. We kept saying on the bench, How are we in this game?”
He continued, “I give Minnesota credit. They must have checked us awfully well for us to shoot probably a season low in both field goal and three-point. But I was disappointed in our performance, I really was. I'm sure the players are, too.”
The Spartans head man was almost philosophical saying, “It's a learning lesson. It seems like the whole damn year has been a learning lesson. We learned again today, if you don't come at this level, it's not an AAU tournament, and play 40 minutes, you can play better the second half, you can play better in different parts. It's not going to be good enough.”
Miles Bridges has 20 points and seven rebounds. Nick Ward had 15 points and 11 rebounds to capture the double double. They were the only Spartans to reach double digits.
A somber team captain in Tum Tum Nairn said of the contest, “I put that on myself, not bringing everybody ready to play. Got to do a better job as a leader of the team to make sure guys are locked in and ready to play.”
Miles Bridges echoed his captain’s frustration with the contest. “Yeah, we just didn't come ready to play. Myself, I didn't rebound well. We just got to bring it every 40 minutes, man. We can't just come half of the game. We have to bring it every 40 minutes.”
MSU had 10 assists on 19 baskets, but the two big stats in the game were second chance points which the Gophers won 14-8 and points off of turnovers that also favored the Gophers 19-11. MSU this year is very talented, but unlike past years they are unable to beat an opponent and themselves.
The Spartans will make Tom Izzo’s 20th straight NCAA tournament appearance next week. While most prognostication has them a 10 seed, we all will learn on Sunday.