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Minnesota loses to Michigan State 71-69

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota came up short in East Lansing, falling to Michigan State 71-69 at the Breslin Center. With the loss, the Gophers fall to 10-4 on the season and 1-4 in conference play. Eric Curry led all Minnesota scorers with 19 points.

Moral victories are stupid, so I am not going to call this a moral victory. I am going to say that it is fun to watch a team that on paper has little business competing with a top 10 team making a top 10 team beat them on a buzzer beater. Michigan State’s celebration after the game made clear that the Spartans felt lucky to escape the game with a win. #BeAnnoying is all I am looking for this season. That is small consolation because the record says 1-4 in conference play now, but it is some consolation.

In lieu of a recap of the two halves, I am instead going to do a top 5 thoughts from the game.

  1. Eric Curry was phenomenal tonight, finishing with 19 points on 8-12 shooting, and added 7 rebounds (4 of those on the offensive end). Late in the game, Curry fell awkwardly and left the game. Early reports suggest he is day to day, and I hope that is true. Simply put, Eric Curry is both too important to this team as a player for him to be out long term. More importantly, Eric Curry is too good of a person to keep getting screwed by injuries. Get healthy ASAP.
  2. E.J. Stephens had himself a game tonight. 18 points and 6 rebounds from the off guard spot is great production, and a testament to why having experienced players is beneficial in road games. Stephens is not the normal go to player for Minnesota. That is Jamison Battle or Payton Willis. Tonight, Michigan State decided to devote most of their overall game plan making Battle give up the ball. Since that is going to be a mainstay for the team going forward, it is incumbent on players like Stephens to step up and make plays. Tonight he did so.
  3. Yeah, yeah. It is super early and one should always be careful about big predictions early on. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I think the Gophers have gotten a good one in Ben Johnson. The Gophers continued to get excellent shot opportunities after time outs (ATOs) from either the sideline (SLOB) or baseline (BLOB) sets. It is possible that the bag of tricks will run out in the near future. I strongly doubt it.
  4. Minnesota had double the amount of offensive rebounds as the Spartans. Like we all expected before the game right?

5. The difference in this game was two free throws. The Gophers and Spartans had an identical number of two point and three point shots.

Minnesota returns home to face the Hawkeyes on Sunday, January 16.