FINAL: Spartan defense hold Golden Gophers to 33 percent shooting in 65-47 win
MSU men's basketball (12-6 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) competes the regular season sweep against No. 24 Minnesota (15-3 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) after blowing out the Golden Gophers, 65-47.
After a dominant 16 points in the first half by freshman forward Miles Bridges, the Spartans took a 39-17 lead into the half. At the Barn in Minnesota, the Golden Gophers had a 13-point lead at the half. After chipping away at the Minnesota lead, the Spartans were able to force overtime, eventually winning 75-74.
Though the Golden Gophers had a comeback in mind, the Spartans took the first two minutes to dispel their spirits with a hard fought layup by freshman guard Joshua Langford and a 3-point basket from the top of the key by senior guard Alvin Ellis III. The basket by Ellis gave the Spartans a 44-20 lead.
Out of Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino's timeout — son of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino — the Spartans found themselves on the wrong side of referee Ted Valentine's whistle, freshman forward Nick Ward on the receiving end. Though Ward has been a staple in the Spartan offensive this season, his presence was lost due to foul trouble. Ward would finish the game with nine points after receiving late game playing time. He would foul out with 2:37 left in the second half.
With Ward's absence for the core of the game, the Spartans needed no of help behind the offensive flurry from Bridges. His 16 points in the first half came from 5-for-6 shooting from the field. In the second half, Bridges would see less minutes played, ending the second half scoreless. This is Bridges' third game back after missing seven straight games with a foot injury.
After being named co-Big Ten player of the week, junior guard Nate Mason was held in check by junior guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. and freshman guard Cassius Winston. Mason, the team's leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, was held to an abysmal 6-for-15 shooting for 14 points. Three of his baskets coming in garbage time in the final two minutes of the second half.
The Golden Gophers as a team would struggle to find open shots. With just 47 points scored in the game, Minnesota shot just 33 percent. Its first half leading scorer, guard Dupree McBrayer, was one of two Golden Gophers to finish in double-digit scoring. After scoring 11 points in the first half, McBrayer would be blanketed for zero points in the latter half.
For just the third time in his short career, Langford had a double-digit scoring night. His 13 points came on 6-for-9 shooting from the field.
As a team, the Spartans dominated the glass, securing a rebound margin of plus 13, 11 rebounds coming on the offensive end.
Leaders for MSU:
Points: Bridges with 16
Rebounds: Goins with 9
Assists: Winston with 5
Leaders for No. 24 Minnesota:
Points: Mason with 14
Rebounds: Curry and Coffey with 6
Assists: Coffey with 2
MSU will be on the road in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 15 to square off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.