Following Saturday’s postponement against the Michigan Wolverines, the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball program was back in action on Wednesday night in the Breslin Center against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. MSU walked away with a dramatic 71-69 victory, thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by forward Joey Hauser.
5-0 in the B1G pic.twitter.com/s0XeeojQA5— Michigan State Men's Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) January 13, 2022
The Spartans scored the first five points of the game off of a two-point bucket by center Marcus Bingham Jr. and a three-pointer by point guard Tyson Walker. At the first media timeout of the game with under 16 minutes to play, MSU led 7-4.
Once play picked back up, Minnesota guard Payton Willis drilled a three-pointer to tie the game. The Golden Gophers hung tough during the four-minute stretch, but Michigan State led 14-10 with 11:34 to play in the half. Michigan State freshman shooting guard Max Christie hit a three-pointer during that stretch.
The game was fast-paced from then on, with the under-eight-minute media timeout not coming until the 5:09 mark in the first half. At the point, Michigan State led Minnesota 25-17. Immediately after that, forward Gabe Brown would add a pair of free throws to push MSU’s lead to double-digits.
Minnesota would not go away, however. After a pair of free throws from center Julius Marble, the Spartans led 34-28 with just six seconds left to play in the first half. On the next possession for the Gophers, though, Willis would hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to cut Michigan State’s lead to just three points, 34-31, at halftime.
Through the first 20 minutes of gameplay, Christie led the Spartans with 10 points, while Minnesota guard E.J. Stephens led the Gophers with 10 points of his own.
The second half was closely-contested throughout its duration. At the under 16-minute media timeout, Michigan State held a slim 42-40 advantage. After the break, Minnesota guard Luke Loewe was called for a flagrant-one foul after appearing to kick Brown while going after a loose ball. Brown hit both free throws, and Walker would later add a layup to extend MSU’s lead to six points.
A quick 5-0 run from Willis and forward Jamison Battle would then draw the Gophers within one-point, as Michigan State led 46-45 with 14:08 left to play. Walker then answered with five quick points of his own from a two-point jumper and three-pointer, which extended the Spartans’ lead to 51-45 with 13:08 to play.
A 7-0 run then gave the Golden Gophers the lead at 52-51, with Battle scoring four of those points. After the teams traded a few free throws, Michigan State forward and team captain Malik Hall drilled a three-pointer. Willis would add a layup for Minnesota, and the Spartans led 57-55 at the under eight-minute media timeout.
After the timeout, Hall and Christie would both hit jumpers to extend Michigan State’s lead to six points. The teams would continue to trade baskets from there and MSU held a narrow lead at 65-62 at the under-four-minute media timeout.
The Golden Gophers kept fighting on the road, eventually tying the game at 69-69 with just 25 seconds left to play, thanks to a pair of clutch free throws from Stephens.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo would take a time out to draw something up for the final possession of the game. After a pass from Christie, point guard A.J. Hoggard would drive to the basket, penetrating through the defense, and finding Hauser for the game-winning layup as time was expiring. The Spartans would prevail with a final score of 71-69.
It was a much tougher game than anticipated, as Ben Johnson’s Golden Gophers played their hearts out, but Michigan State found a way to get it done.
Christie led Michigan State in scoring with 16 points, while Brown chipped in 13 points and Walker added 10 points. Forward Eric Curry led Minnesota with 19 points, while Stephens had 18 points, Willis scored 15 points and Battle added 13 points.
The Spartans narrowly edged the Gophers on the glass, out-rebounding Minnesota by a final tally of 33-32. Michigan State committed 13 turnovers compared to just eight giveaways for Minnesota.
Michigan State shot 52 percent from the floor (27-for-52) and 43 percent from three-point range, making six shots from deep on 14 attempts. Minnesota went 27-for-62 from the field (44 percent), but shot just 33 percent from behind the arc (making six shots on 18 attempts).
Michigan State has now swept Minnesota on the season, also defeating the Gophers on Dec. 8. The Spartans improve to 14-2 overall on the season, and remain unbeaten in Big Ten play (5-0). The Spartans have also now won nine games in a row. Minnesota falls to 10-4 on the season, and just 1-4 in conference play.
Next up, Michigan State will host Northwestern at the Breslin Center on Saturday at noon Eastern Time.