Minnesota vs Michigan State Men's Basketball
basketball Edit

Minnesota Falls To Michigan State 71-69

Minnesota dropped another Big Ten matchup, this one a heartbreaker to #10 Michigan State, as the Gophers were right with them for the whole game before losing on a buzzer beater. Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives to take from this game moving forward, and here are three of those key takeaways.

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An Effective Eric Curry

First of all, best wishes to Eric Curry right now, and I know we're all hoping for a speedy recovery as last night's injury was tough to watch. Prior to that injury, Eric was having a career game, and showed just how valuable his Big 10 experience is for this team. He was defending in the paint at a high level, and pretty much forced MSU to stop going to their 7 footer inside because he couldn't push Eric down. Offensively he was mixing in some mid-range shots with his low post scores to finish with an impressive 19 points on 8-12 shooting from the field. Even when not scoring, his leadership is such a valuable thing on the floor for the Gophers. Hopefully he'll be healthy soon to get back with this team.

Offense Coming From Other Places

We already talked about Eric Curry scoring a team high 19 points, but EJ Stephens was the second leading scorer on the night with 18 points. Jamison Battle and Payton Willis, the Gophers' two leading scorers on the year, combined for 28 points. While that's not a bad number, it's noticeably less than what they have typically been producing offensively for this team. What's encouraging about these numbers is that it shows that Minnesota has a couple other capable scorers to go around. If Willis or Battle is having an off night, a guy like EJ Stephens needs to be able to step up and fill that production, and last night he showed that he can be that guy against a high level team. Even though his outside shot wasn't falling, he was aggressive getting to the basket for some high percentage finishes, plus he was earning trips to the free throw line for easy points.

Minnesota Can Compete With Anyone

Now I'm not saying that Minnesota is going to go out and beat a Baylor or a Gonzaga if they were to play tomorrow. But this type of game just shows that Minnesota isn't going to be pushed around in the Big 10, even on the road against a Top 10 team. There are going to be some good games and bad games, but this team has the heart to come in and battle with whatever opponent they face. Just think, if one more three point shot falls, or if a 50/50 call goes Minnesota's way instead of Michigan State's, we'd be talking about Minnesota knocking off a Top 10 team on the road. So yes, Minnesota lost this game, but it's a loss that shows a lot of encouraging signs for this team, and program, moving forward.

Key Performers For Minnesota

Eric Curry- 19 points, 7 rebounds

EJ Stephens- 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Payton Willis- 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals

Key Performers For Michigan State

Max Christie- 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists

Gabe Brown- 13 points, 4 rebounds

Marcus Bingham Jr.- 6 points, 4 blocks

What's Next For Minnesota?

Minnesota returns home to take on Iowa this Sunday, January 16th at 1:00pm. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network. Iowa is currently 11-4 (1-3 conference) and is led by high scoring sophomore Keegan Murray at 24.5 ppg.

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