Minneapolis - The MSU mens basketball team remains winless on the road as it fell to Minnesota 70-67 Saturday in its Big Ten opener.
MSU (9-5 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) played without sophomore point guard Marcus Taylor who twisted his back during a pregame warm-up. Taylor is day-to-day.
Junior forward Adam Ballinger, who hurt his right ankle before the Dec. 22 Seton Hall game also didnt play.
Despite being banged up, MSU nearly escaped with a win.
With 2:53 left, freshman guard Kelvin Torbert found fellow freshman guard Chris Hill for an open three pointer that cut the lead to 64-61. Hill lead all scorers with 25 points.
After Minnesota guard Kerwin Fleming traveled, Torbert hit his own three to tie the game at 64 with 1:57 left.
The next time down the floor, Gopher forward Rick Rickert hit a baseline jumper the next trip down to give the Gophers a two-point lead. On MSUs next possession, Hill banked a three pointer off the glass to give MSU a 67-66 advantage in the last minute.
That was the last time MSU would score. An MSU defensive effort letdown gave forward Jerry Holman an easy baseline dunk and a 68-67 lead.
The game seemed to be over when forward Travarus Bennett stole the ball from sophomore forward Adam Wolfe with :36 seconds left.
MSU had one last shot when Fleming failed to give Minnesota a four-point lead when he split a pair of free throws with :06.1 left. MSU drove the length of the court, but a three pointer at the buzzer by Hill bounced off the rim as time ran out.
Even though MSU lost, head coach Tom Izzo said his team fought till the end.
Im proud of the way we battled hard, Izzo said. But were still one step away from getting done what we have to get done to win in this league.
In the first half Minnesota took away a small lead from MSU at 10:59 going up 23-22. It maintained a lead for the rest of the half.
The Gophers then extended the gap to 33-22 with 6:22 left in the half with a 10-0 run. MSU climbed within 10 at halftime, when it trailed 37-30.
Minnesota head coach Dan Monson said the game was a huge win for the Gophers because MSU has a more developed program.
Obviously, that was a big win for us, a win that we needed. Monson said. Their program is at a different level than ours.
MSU will have another chance to get its first road win Tuesday, when it travels to Indiana.