Gophers Lose to Spartans in Low Scoring Game

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota took the floor on Tuesday looking for just their second win in their last seven outings. Despite a late second half run, the Gophers stumbled in the closing minutes, falling to Tom Izzo's Spartans 53-48.

Kalin Lucas set the tone early by finding a soft spot in the zone and nailing a deep ball in the first minute of the game. This was quickly followed up by a Ralph Sampson jumper to make the score 3-2 in favor of Michigan State.

The score remained 3-2 for nearly the next four minutes until another made jumper by Sampson. This sloppy stretch of the game consisted of fouls, turnovers and missed layup opportunities for both teams. Once Minnesota took the lead, they expanded it with two quick layups by Austin Hollins off the bench.

Chip Armelin, Trevor Mbakwe and Blake Hoffarber all added points to stretch the lead but Michigan State hung around by a score of 19-12 thanks to the play of Lucas. Within two minutes, Lucas, Draymond Green and Austin Thornton closed the gap to just two points, 21-19, where it would stay until the break.

The Spartans didn't waste any time in the second half, scoring two quick buckets to take the lead. Michigan had an easier time in the offensive end during the second half as the Gophers' zone defense was less effective. The Spartans eventually extended their slim lead to 37-31 with just over 12 minutes in the game.

The Gophers needed to make a charge quickly before time expired. They did this by rattling of a 16-2 run in nine minutes thanks to ten points by Chip Aremlin during that span. With just over four minutes remaining and the score 47-39 in favor of Minnesota, it looked like the Gophers were going to run away with the game.

The scrappy Spartans had other plans as they went on a run of their own, capped off by a cold-blooded three by Durrell Summers — his first make of the game, to pull the Spartans within a point at the 2:47 mark.

The Gophers still looked poised to win but poor offensive execution forced bad shots late in the game, while Minnesota was unable to come up with a stop at the defensive end in the closing seconds. Minnesota had the game in their grasp but watched as it slip away, losing to the Spartans for the second time this season by a final score of 53-48.

Inside the Game

Kalin Lucas was the player of the game for the Spartans. He totaled a game-high 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He also played well at the defensive end, adding four steals to lead Michigan State to victory.

Chip Armelin was a big spark off the bench for Minnesota in the second. He ended the game with 12 points on 4-6 shooting including two huge threes late in the game that ignited the crowd. Armelin tried to be the hero in the closing minutes by chucking up a step-back three that didn't fall.

Coach Tubby Smith informed the media after the game that Rodney Williams was hampered by a knee injury and wasn't himself against Michigan State. Williams only played 11 minutes and ended the game with just two points.

The Gophers' 48 points was by far a season low. The last time Minnesota was held to under 50 points was against Michigan State on February 4th, 2009 when the Spartans destroyed the Gophers by a score of 76-47 in East Lansing.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories