EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State found a way to win,
but had to search harder than anyone expected.
The Spartans needed another second-half comeback and a
season-high 15 steals for a 69-58 win over struggling Minnesota on
"The bottom line is if you're in position to win a
championship, you've got to find ways to survive," said Michigan
State guard Chris Hill, who had a game-high 20 points, five
rebounds, four assists and two steals. "You're not going to play
your best every night."
The Spartans (13-9, 8-3 Big Ten) played one of their worst first
halves and were fortunate to trail Minnesota just 39-31. But when
the Golden Gophers scored just 19 points in the last 20 minutes,
Michigan State was able to escape.
"We're in this mode where we have to keep winning," Tom Izzo
said after becoming the 17th coach to reach 100 Big Ten wins.
"That's one down and five to go. For that I'm grateful. But it
wasn't really a step forward. For that I'm disappointed."
Big Ten scoring and rebounding leader Kris Humphries had 17
points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Golden Gophers (9-14,
1-10). Ben Johnson added 14 points, including his team's only
3-pointer in seven tries.
Michigan State's 22-7 run to close the game was the difference --
the surge included five straight points from Ager and all eight of
Paul Davis' points.
"We started both halves a little bit tentative, and you have to
be more aggressive than Michigan State if you're going to come in
here and win," Minnesota coach Dan Monson said.
The Golden Gophers erased a 7-0 deficit with a 15-6 spurt. And
with the game tied at 23, they took control with a 10-3 run late in
the first half, shooting 60 percent from the field.
The Spartans were 2-for-12 from 3-point range and had just nine
rebounds before halftime. Davis, the Big Ten's No. 5 scorer in
league play, didn't have a rebound until 11:29 was left in the game
and didn't have a point until an alley-oop dunk with 8:44 to go.
"If we played the second half the way we did the first half,
we'd have lost that game," Davis said. "There were really no
excuses for us to play the way we did."
Michigan State came out firing after the break and tied it at 45
with help from eight quick points by Hill, who finished 4-for-9
from long range. After Minnesota regained the lead at 51-47, the
Spartans scored seven straight points and went ahead to stay.
It took 61 percent shooting from the field for Michigan State to
double the Golden Gophers' scoring in the second half. Twenty
Minnesota turnovers helped the Spartans overcome a 24-21 rebounding
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