The New Year looks to hold more victories for the No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers as they defeated No. 18 Michigan State, 76-63 at Williams Arena on Monday.
The Gophers held a lead for most of the game and led by as many as 12 points in the first half — but a 10-0 run by the Spartans and a buzzer beating three-pointer by Michigan State’s Travis Trice cut the lead to one point going into half-time.
Minnesota started the second half with sloppy passing and poor shooting, giving up a lead in the first ten minutes of the half, but the Gophers, led by Andre Hollins and Trevor Mbakwe, took the lead back late in the second half.
Hollins scored 22 points and added six assists. He anchored Minnesota’s free-throw shooting woes by going 7-for-7 from the line as the rest of the team finished 6-for-15.
Mbakwe finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds as he started his second consecutive game over Elliot Eliason.
At times, Mbakwe looked to be the only Gopher rebounding on the defensive end, but Minnesota actually finished with 39 total rebounds, winning the match up over the Spartans by seven rebounds.
Minnesota, the number one offensive rebounding percentage team in the country, finished with 13 offensive rebounds.
Michigan State’s Keith Apping led the Spartans with 15 points but contributed the most on defense, grabbing six steals and dishing five assists.
Many of Apping’s steals came on poor passes and well-defended in-bounds plays. Michigan State forced Minnesota into 16 turnovers while the Gophers were only able to force 13.
Both teams went into the half shooting remarkably well — both teams were over 50 percent. But the defenses eventually stepped up and Michigan State’s 53 first half shooting percentage dropped to 44 percent.
Minnesota went into the half shooting 63 percent but managed to stay above 50 percent by finishing 30-53 for 57 percent.
Tubby Smith won his Big Ten opener as head coach and the win over Michigan State was the first time the Gophers had beaten the team from East Lansing since March of 2010.
The Gophers will face Northwestern next on Sunday at 6 p.m. in Williams Arena.