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Michigan State defeats a short-handed Minnesota 76-66

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

Minnesota lost to Michigan State last night 76-66. The Gophers drop to 3-4 in conference play and 12-6 on the season. Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 22 points.

For now, let’s start with the main story lines from yesterday. Elijah Hawkins did not play due to a sprained ankle, so the Gophers were without their starting point guard and primary creator. That showed for much of the night. Minnesota had 19 turnovers and Michigan State converted that into 21 points. Conversely, the Spartans had five turnovers and Minnesota scored two points off them. That is the primary difference in the game last night.

Nonetheless, Minnesota hung around for the entirety of the game (the score line is inflated due to late fouling to keep the game alive). Partially that was due to hot shooting from distance. In the first half, the Gophers were 5-11 from distance. Mike Mitchell made several as did Cam Christie and Braeden Carrington.

Had that shooting continued, the Gophers would have won yesterday even with all the turnovers and foul trouble. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Without their primary point guard and secondary point guard (Cam Christie fouled out in the second half), the Gophers did not have enough creativity to break down a relatively stout Spartans defense. Furthermore, Minnesota continued to turn the ball over and take bad shots outside the flow of the offense. The Gophers often failed to find Dawson Garcia, which was confusing since Garcia was regularly out-playing his defender and at minimum getting to the foul line.

This is a missed opportunity for Minnesota. The Spartans are easily the worst Michigan State team I can remember, and the Gophers had a chance even short handed last night to come out of East Lansing with a win.

Notes

42% from the field, 35% from distance, and 66% from the line is not going to win a lot of conference games.

To be extremely clear, Minnesota lost last night because they could not make shots and turned the ball over a lot. However, foul trouble did not help. The Gophers picked up a lot of fouls that were consistently called, and for a few on the perimeter failed to adjust to how the game was being called.

They also picked up a fair few that were not called consistently. For that reason, it is hilarious that Tom Izzo picked up a technical complaining about the officiating when Minnesota was playing most of last night 5 on 8. Forget it UStreet, it’s the Breslin Center.