Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spartans Outlast Gopher Hoopsters

The Gopher basketball team simply ran out of time on Wednesday, losing on the road to #7 Michigan State 60-53 in East Lansing.

Senior guard Lawrence Westbrook did all he could to keep the Gophers in the game in the second half, scoring ten straight Minnesota points and helping the Gophs bite into an 11-point MSU lead. However, the Spartans closed things out and picked up the victory.

Westbrook led all scorers with 15 points, including 12 in the second half. Fellow senior Damian Johnson added 14 and four key blocks. No other Minnesota player reached double-figures. Kalin Lucas had 14 points for Sparty, and Durrell Summers added 13 points off the bench.

It was a half-court defensive struggle between the two teams who much preferred to run the floor. Both teams took relatively good care of the basketball, with the Spartans turning the ball over just eight times against Minny's 14. Michigan State out-rebounded the Gophers just 33-32, which was an area which MSU held a significant advantage going into the game. However, the difference was shooting, with the Gophers hitting just 41% from the floor and just 4-12 from three-point territory. Long-range sharpshooter Blake Hoffarber was 0-3 from long range in this game.

Minnesota drops to 12-5 on the season and 3-2 in the Big Ten. Another road contest looms this Saturday in Bloomington, IN against the Indiana Hoosiers, which is obviously a game the Gophers should win. However, Indiana played the Gophs tough in Bloomington last season and is much improved over last season's squad which won only once in Big Ten play. Second-year coach Tom Crean has the ball rolling in the right direction for the Hoosiers and they will be no pushover. Still, the Gophers have the edge in talent and should win.
One interesting stat on the season for the Gophers: Minnesota has scored 70 points or more 12 times in the season's first 17 games. They are 12-0 in those contests. In the occasions in which the Gophers have failed to reach 70 points, the team is 0-5. That pretty much says it all. 

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