Sunday, December 5, 2021

Big Ten defeat opens season

January 7, 2002
MSU freshman guard Chris Hill tries to block the ball of Golden Gopher senior forward Travarus Bennett during the game against Minnesota on Saturday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Hill was in for 38 of the 40 minutes of game time, the longest he’s played to date. —

Minneapolis - The MSU men‘s basketball team extended its road losing streak Saturday after a 70-67 loss to Minnesota at Williams Arena.

The loss was No. 19 MSU’s (9-5 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) fifth straight on an opponent’s floor or neutral court. It was also a rocky start to the Spartan‘s campaign for five straight Big Ten regular season titles.

That goal was put farther out of reach before the game even started. Sophomore point guard Marcus Taylor didn‘t play Saturday because he twisted his back in a morning shoot-around.

Taylor, who is listed as day-to-day, said he had difficulty walking and breathing after the injury. Taylor joins junior forward Adam Ballinger on the injured list.

“I caught a pass and turned to shoot it and it just tightened up,” Taylor said.

The Golden Gophers (8-5, 1-1) didn’t hesitate to capitalize on the absence of the two MSU starters, Taylor said.

“I think I could have made a difference as far as running the offense,” Taylor said. “They were putting a lot of pressure on the point.”

Even though freshman point guard Chris Hill was the focus of that pressure, he still made up for Taylor’s 15.5 points per game and 34.2 minutes per game. Hill had a career- and game-high 25 points in a career-high 38 minutes.

A 28 point performance from Hill would’ve sent the game into overtime, but his three-pointer from the left wing bounced off the rim as the clock expired.

The shot came after Minnesota guard Kerwin Fleming missed a chance to ice the game when he split a pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds left and a 69-67 lead.

“It looked good,” Hill said of the final shot. “It’s obviously a tough shot to take. I knew the clock was low and we had to get a shot off.”

Hill did make a three pointer 44.9 seconds earlier when he floated toward the left wing before banking it off the glass and in the basket. The field goal was the Spartan’s last and gave them a 67-66 advantage. However, on the next play a defensive breakdown allowed Gopher forward Jerry Holman an easy baseline dunk.

“How we could score to go ahead and then let a guy go down and dunk the ball is beyond belief,” said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. “But he made a big play and we made a bone-headed play.”

However, Izzo was pleased to see the Spartans out rebounded Minnesota 41-26. Sophomore forward Adam Wolfe lead the way with a game-high 12 rebounds.

A short memory would do the Spartan’s good as they travel to Indiana Tuesday, said junior forward Al Anagonye.

“In the Big Ten, when you have games coming bang-bang-bang, you can‘t worry about the last game,” he said.

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