Live Blog: Gophers Men’s Basketball at No. 7 Michigan State

Marco LaNave

The Gophers visit the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., as they try to upset the No. 7 Spartans on the road for the first time officially in 20 years.

Final – The Gophers turn it over three times in the final 1:14 and four in the final 2:02, while they got only three shots off in their five possessions in that time. MICHIGAN STATE 60, GOPHERS 53.

0:31.3 2nd – Westbrook just threw a shot from the lane off the glass and in. The Gophers immediately called timeout and now will need to keep fouling. Westbrook is out if he commits one more, though. MICHIGAN STATE 58, GOPHERS 53.

0:44.5 2nd – Now it will come to free throws, as Minnesota has lost the ball to a steal and block on its last two possessions. Westbrook just fouled by Lucas to start the slow progression of the final seconds. MICHIGAN STATE 56, GOPHERS 51.

2:22 2nd – The Gophers just called a timeout with a chance to tie or get within one. Michigan State got the ball when Johnson lost it driving for a layup, but enough Gophers fingers got on the ball to force a jump-ball situation before the Spartans got a timeout. On the floor for Minnesota: Nolen (9 points), Westbrook (13), Hoffarber (4), Johnson (14), Sampson (8). MICHIGAN STATE 54, GOPHERS 51.

3:45 2nd – Two possessions ago, the Gophers had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Westbrook missed a 3-point attempt short from the corner, and Allen made a three on the Spartans’ next possession, re-energizing the crowd. MICHIGAN STATE 54, GOPHERS 49.

7:51 2nd – The Gophers are still in the game because of Johnson and Westbrook, who have combined for the last 14 points for Minnesota. The defense is effective when the Gophers aren’t committing fouls. MICIHGAN STATE 49, GOPHERS 43.

12:43 2nd – The two teams combined to score on six consecutive possessions, as the Spartans extended their lead from 38-29 to 43-35. The Spartans have made only three of 14 shots to start the half, opening the door a little for the Gophers. MICHIGAN STATE 43, GOPHERS 35.

15:18 2nd – The Gophers literally have to fight for every point, and they are hesitant to feed the ball to the post so far in the second half. Michigan State has evened the rebounding 25-25. MICHIGAN STATE 40, GOPHERS 31.

Halftime – The Gophers have improved their shooting by making eight of their final 12 in the half and they still lead in rebounding, 21-16. The Spartans have been able to have their way when they’ve escaped defensive pressure. If they come out shooting better than the Gophers, they have a chance to run away. Michigan State finished the half on a 13-4 run. MICHIGAN STATE 33, GOPHERS 25.

3:43 1st – The Spartans and the Breslin Center have jumped in energy since freshman center Derrick Nix hit the floor hard after Gophers sophomore center Colton Iverson battled him for a rebound off of Nix’s miss. Nix was down for about a minute, and an offensive foul was called on Iverson. Guard Durrell Summers has made a dunk and layup to put the Spartans on top. MICHIGAN STATE 24, GOPHERS 21.

7:04 1st – The Gophers first team has re-entered and made four of six shots to extend a 10-2 run. The Minnesota defense has kept it in the game, but the question is how long it can sustain it with high intensity. GOPHERS 15, MICHIGAN STATE 13.

11:44 1st – The Gophers have now made just two of 15 shots (13.3 percent). They’ve had a heck of a time trying to get just layups to fall. They have been a little more patient on offensive possessions than the Spartans, probably because the latter know they have to move and shoot quickly to avoid the Gophers’ aggressive defense. If Minnesota can start making shots (and it needs to), it has a shot to hang in there for a while. MICHIGAN STATE 11, GOPHERS 6.

15:05 1st – A physical, defensive struggle describes the opening minutes, even though only three fouls have been called. The Gophers might even have a lead if they had made more shots (two of 10 made so far). The Gophers were decimated in rebounds last year against the Spartans, but they have out-rebounded them 8-3 so far. They certainly aren’t coming easy though. MICHIGAN STATE 6, GOPHERS 5.

Starting Lineups:

Minnesota Gophers (3-1 Big Ten, 12-4 overall):

F Sr. Damian JohnsonF Sr. Damian Johnson G Jr. Blake Hoffarber
C So. Ralph Sampson III
G Jr. Al Nolen
G Sr. Lawrence Westbrook

Michigan State Spartans (3-0 Big Ten, 13-3 overall):

F Sr. Raymar Morgan
F So. Delvon Roe
C Fr. Derrick Nix
G Jr. Chris Allen
G Jr. Kalin Lucas (2008-09 Big Ten Player of the Year)

I am seated on the south baseline of the court at the Breslin Center, so I am seated just off-center from the Michigan State band and just a few yards from the tunnel to the Spartans’ locker room. The students – with white shirts that say “Izzone” (for Spartans coach Tom Izzo) encircle the entire lower level of the arena except behind the Spartans’ bench and the scorer’s table next to it.