Reaction from Michigan State's come-from-behind 66-61 victory at Minnesota:
Why it happened: The Gophers led Michigan State for the majority of the second half. They were tougher and more physical. Surprising. Down the stretch, however, the Spartans woke up.
Back-to-back buckets by Brandon Wood cut Minnesota’s edge to 58-56 with 2:27 to play. Joe Coleman was flagged for a double-dribble on Minnesota’s next possession and Draymond Green muscled his way to the bucket on the other end to tie the game. The Spartans took a 60-58 lead on a pair of Keith Appling free throws with 32.2 seconds to play, giving the Spartans their first lead since the start of the second half.
The Gophers scored three points in the final 3:21 of the second half. The Spartans closed the second half with a 16-7 run. Michigan State was 17-for-23 from the charity stripe.
First Half: The Gophers held their own against the surging Spartans in Minneapolis. The Gophers had the rebounding edge against one of top rebounding teams in the country (15-14). They shot 50 percent from the field (2-for-9 from beyond the arc). But the Spartans took a 31-30 edge into halftime after shooting 46 percent from the field. Green had 12 points before halftime. The Spartans shot 16 treys in the first half (5 for 16).
Stars of the Game: Green continued his pursuit of the Big Ten player of the year (he’s the front-runner in my book) with another outstanding effort. He finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. For Minnesota, sophomore Austin Hollins carried the scoring load with 17 points.
Turning points: The Gophers led the Spartans 51-47 with 6:58 to play when Appling fouled Andre Hollins at the 3-point line. The freshman hit all three free throws to extend Minnesota’s lead to 54-47. But a late Minnesota turnover led to Green’s game-tying layup on the other end with 1:38 to play.
What it means for Minnesota: The Gophers missed a chance to boost their at-large résumé. They’re just not an NCAA tournament team right now. And unless they finish with a dramatic rally (Indiana and Wisconsin are next), they’ll miss the NCAA tourney for the second year in a row.
What it means for Michigan State: It was a tight victory. The Spartans nearly squandered this one. But they won. And as far as their bid for a No. 1 seed is concerned, that’s all that matters.