Michigan State powers past Gophers

The Spartans dominated in the paint en route to their victory.

Charlie Armitz

Gophers head coach Tubby Smith knew his teamâÄôs inside play would be a key to upsetting Michigan State on the road Wednesday night.

That didnâÄôt stop the No. 10 Spartans from dominating the paint throughout their 68-52 win in East Lansing, Mich. The win was Michigan StateâÄôs head coach Tom IzzoâÄôs 400th and also ended MinnesotaâÄôs three-game winning streak.

Spartans forwards Draymond Green and Branden Dawson combined to score 38 points on 16-for-21 shooting in the win.

Green added 14 rebounds and six assists, and Dawson had four blocks. The two big men used their unique combination of bulk and quickness to get into the lane for easy layups, crash the boards and disrupt a Gophers offense that was stagnant for most of the game.

Minnesota shot 18-for-47 from the field (38 percent) and committed 14 turnovers in the loss.

Despite the efficiency of their two starting big men âÄî Ralph Sampson III and Rodney Williams, who shot a combined 10-for-17 âÄî the Gophers struggled to generate easy baskets and spent most of their offensive sets passing the ball around the perimeter.

In a slow-paced game packed with fouls and stoppages of play, Minnesota (3-5) had several chances to cut into the lead Michigan State grabbed early in the game.

The Spartans (6-2) had six of their eight offensive rebounds in the first 12 minutes and led 32-19 with three minutes left in the first half.

Minnesota responded with a 6-0 run and looked like it would take the momentum into halftime.

But Green âÄî who hit several perimeter shots in the game âÄî netted a fadeaway 3-pointer over Williams as the first half clock expired, which gave Michigan State a 37-27 lead at the break.

The GophersâÄô best hope in the second half came following an 8-0 run that included four points from Sampson.

Minnesota had a chance to cut the SpartansâÄô lead to one possession after a Joe Coleman steal, but Coleman turned the ball over in the backcourt seconds later and was whistled for a flagrant foul while trying to prevent an easy layup.

The SpartansâÄô built their lead back to 10 points with five free throws over the next two minutes, which suppressed the GophersâÄô momentum for the remainder of the game.

Coleman, who had scored 61 points in his last four games, struggled to find lanes to the basket and finished with nine points on 2-for-5 shooting.

MinnesotaâÄôs other starting wingman, Austin Hollins, was held scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting.

Williams finished with a team-high 15 points and Sampson added 10 points.

But Michigan StateâÄôs early dominance can largely be placed on the shoulders of Sampson, who failed to box out his man multiple times in the first half. Sampson also contributed to several Gophers turnovers.

Smith said Tuesday that Sampson would need to come out with the same energy he displayed early in MinnesotaâÄôs 75-52 win against Northwestern on Sunday, but the 6-foot-11 forward looked more timid than energetic as he watched his team fall into a nine-point hole.

He was solid in the second half but could not help the Gophers overcome poor shooting and foul trouble.

Minnesota has lost 12 consecutive games by at least six points in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers fell to 2-3 on the road in conference this season.