Minnesota vs. Michigan State New Year’s Eve Battle

Brian Johnson

It’s 20 minutes before game time at the Barn as the Gophers prepare to take on number 10 Michigan State.  The game opens up the Big Ten Conference season  and should show the strength of both teams as contenders in both the Big Ten and the nation.

Starting 5: Johnson, Iverson, Sampson, Westbrook, Nolen. Strong defense from the Spartan’s big men are controlling the Gophers right now. Looks like it’s going to be a full court press day for both teams. Al Nolen strikes first with a pull up jumper from midrange. Timeout at 15:41, score is tied at 2. Minnesota trails 7-2 at 13:00. State still playing quality defense, limiting Gopher shots. Al Nolen returns into the game. We’ll see if he provides a spark to the offense. Spartans guard Chris Allen has hit two three pointers in the past two minutes, with Minnesota’s Travis Busch responding with a three of his own. Timeout called. 10-5 Michigan State. Guard Chris Allen finally misses as the shotclock expires. He leads Michigan State with 8 as the Spartans have a commanding 14-6 lead. Timeout at 7:56. After timeout, Nolen dishes to Westbrook on a fastbreak for a layup with the foul, cutting the lead to four. After an offensive foul, Paul Carter hits a jumpshot from the side to cut the lead to two. Michigan State leads by seven after another 3 pointer and a putback by big man Goran Suton. Sophomore guard Kalin Lucas is showing his stuff also, quickly making a drive to the basket for a layup. State leads 23-14 after another Lucas layup. Nolen hits a three, to be contested again by Allen for another three. Hoffarber puts up a three of his own to make it 28-20 Spartans. With 33 seconds remaining in the first half, Hoffarber nails a three to bring the Gophers within three. Timeout called as Tom Izzo erupts. 30-27 Michigan State. Nolen runs down the clock, appears to have the last shot, but dishes to Damian Johnson, who is fouled. Johnson hits both and brings Minnesota within one point at half. Down by 9 at one point, the Gophers, led by Nolen with 9, look ready to keep pushing hard in the second half. After half, the Spartans came back looking stronger, pushing the lead to 8 with 17 minutes to play. Within minutes, the Gophers cut the lead in half again, fighting aggressively for every ball. Timeout called. 38-34 State. An easy three pointer from Lucas puts Michigan State up 10 with 12:41 remaining. It’s a three minute cold streak for the Gophers. Westbrook drives hard for the layup, but Lucas hits a jumpshot to bring the Spartans’ lead back to 10. Timeout at 11:50. 46-36. Someone has to provide a spark for the Gophers right now if they’re going to get back in the game…it looks like it might be Westbrook. Westbrook keeps the Gophers alive with a spectacular layup, but another three from Kalin Lucas quiets Minnesota. Nolen is back in and hits a jumpshot, but guard Durrell Summers puts down an emphatic dunk. It’s starting to get a little out of hand as the Gophers cannot keep up with a fiery Michigan State offense. Timeout called at 7:45. 58-45 State. With 5 remaining, the Gophers trail by 15. Endurance seems to be a factor, and the guards of Chris Allen and Kalin Lucas are proving to be too much too handle. Minnesota may be held to under 60 today. Timeout called at 4:17. 64-49 State. Neither the Barn or Gopher players have the energy seen at halftime. Izzo is still up and at it, pushing his players unitl they close this one out. Michigan State has pulled away and lead by 17, their biggest lead so far. They’ll hand the Gophers their first Big Ten loss, along with their very first loss of the season.