INDIANAPOLIS -- Minnesota continues to grind away toward a potential NCAA tournament berth, and the Gophers are halfway to a signature win. Michigan State missed 15 of its first 21 shots but found a rhythm late in the half to keep things close.
Some quick thoughts at the break of Friday's final quarterfinal matchup:
Michigan State really missed suspended guard Chris Allen for most of the hard, as starters Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers both struggled. But sophomore Korie Lucious provided a much-needed boost in the final minutes, hitting two 3-pointers to cut into Minnesota's lead. The Spartans still will need more from Lucas and Summers, who combined to make only 3 of 13 field-goal attempts.
If you enjoy a smooth shooting stroke, Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber has one of the best in the country. Hoffarber, whose heroics in this building two years ago are legendary, has connected on 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range to lead Minnesota. Michigan State needs to put a body on him in the second half.
I really like the spark Gophers forwards Damian Johnson and Colton Iverson provide. Johnson had no business being left off of the All-Big Ten Defensive team, and he seems to be taking it out on opponents in this tournament. The senior has six points and two huge blocks. Iverson (six points) also has two swats and seems comfortable mixing it up down low. It should be a good matchup in the second half between those two and Michigan State's Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green.