Fresh off an intense defensive 63-54 win over Maryland, the Michigan State men’s basketball team will hit the road Tuesday to once again take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Spartans and the Golden Gophers faced off back on Jan. 18 at the Breslin Center, and MSU came out on top 76-66.
Last time around, graduate student guard Tyson Walker and graduate student forward Malik Hall had stand-out performances on both ends of the court to propel the Spartans to victory. It was a tight battle, but Minnesota was without Elijah Hawkins — its star point guard and Big Ten assist leader.
Hawkins has recently re-entered the lineup for the Golden Gophers and the dynamic is surely going to be different from the previous meeting.
“Unfortunately for us when (Hawkins) was out, it created some problems,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “We prepared for him until that night, number one. Number two, the guys that came in and played — I think it gave more freedom to (Mike) Mitchell, and that and he played really well in our game. And so, it probably helped them because they realized there's some other people.”
Forward Dawson Garcia has been the Golden Gophers' main offensive unit averaging 17.7 points per game and 20.8 in the past five games. Because of his size, Garcia thrives in the paint and MSU sophomore center Carson Cooper will be one of the main obstacles between Garcia and the net.
“We know we're not just, we're not going to hold him scoreless,” Cooper said. “So for us, it's just trying to make every shot tough for him, and because we know we're gonna win the game if they're taking tough shots. They’re not gonna beat us on tough shots.”
Minnesota is now 14-7 and 5-5 in conference play coming off an overtime win against Northwestern 75-66 at home. Michigan State sits two spots ahead of Minnesota in the Big Ten with an overall record of 14-8, 6-5 in Big Ten play but a measly 1-4 during away games.
This game, win or lose, also presents the opportunity for Tyson Walker to set a new school record. Walker is currently tied with Kalin Lucas for scoring double-digits in 33 straight games, should he score more than 10 Tuesday night, he will hold sole possession of the longest streak in school history.
The Spartans and the Golden Gophers will tip off at 9 p.m. in Minneapolis. Streaming will be available on Peacock.
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