EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Earlier in the week, Tom Izzo
downplayed what his 400th victory would mean to him.
When the Michigan State coach reached the milestone, though, he
was overcome with emotion.
Michigan State (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten) moved into a first-place tie
in the conference with its second straight win after losing two in
Izzo was wiping tears off his cheeks during the final seconds
because he said his players were congratulating him when they were
taken out of the game and went to the bench.
"I know it meant something to them," Izzo said. "I didn't
realize it before."
The student section chanted, "Izzo! Izzo!" and "400! 400!"
late in the game when only the final score was in doubt.
"I knew he'd cry at the end," Spartans center Derrick Nix
said. "He always wears his emotions on his sleeve."
Green led his teammates into Izzo's postgame news conference to
present him with a white, commemorative basketball for his
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith was gracious in defeat, heaping
praise on a coach he has faced for years, dating back to his time
"He's a class guy and his teams play extremely hard," Smith
said. "He does things the right way and his teams always come
ready to play."
The Golden Gophers (15-6, 3-5) had won three straight, including
their previous two on the road.
"We did some good things," Smith said. "We just couldn't
finish the right way."
Michigan State led by two midway through the first half when it
went on a 16-5 run, leading to a 37-27 advantage at halftime.
The Spartans were up by 13 early in the second half, but
Minnesota pulled within five with just under 10 minutes left.
Michigan State responded with five straight points to restore a
double-digit cushion and coasted to its 13th straight win at home
against the Gophers.
Keith Appling, the Spartans' second-leading scorer, didn't make
a shot until the final minute of the game and finished with seven
points and four assists.
Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson had 16 points to match a
Green matched his highest-scoring game since scoring a
career-high 34 points in a win two months ago at Gonzaga and he
grabbed at least 10 rebounds for the sixth straight game.
He also did some coaching on the floor.
The senior forward called a play late in the first half while
standing on the left side of the lane, directing the three other
teammates without the ball to move to the baseline, and the
possession ended with him making a short shot off a pass from
Izzo was much more impressed by Green's game than his 400th win.
"He was just unbelievable," Izzo said. "I thought that was
one of the better performances a guy has had here."
Williams wished Minnesota could match up Trevor Mbakwe with
Green, but its best player was on the court for just seven games
before his right knee buckled in a season-ending injury.
"We missed Trevor," Williams said. "Draymond Green is
probably the best 4-man in the league. He's a lot stronger than I
Michigan State made 54 percent of its shots, held the Gophers to
38 percent and outrebounded them by seven.
"We lost the toughness part of it," Smith said. "They just
outphysicaled us in a lot of ways."
The Spartans, in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten with
Ohio State (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) and Michigan (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP), improved to 13-0 at home this
They're off until playing Tuesday at Illinois, giving freshman
point guard Travis Trice a chance to rest the hip injury that kept
him out of the Minnesota game.
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