Gophers Fall Short To Number 1 Michigan State 69-61
MINNEAPOLIS (AP- Gophersports.com) -- Nate Mason and Kevin Dorsey scored 11 points, but the Gophers fell to No. 1 Michigan State 69-61.
Matt Costello contributed 17 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs, for the Spartans (14-1, 1-1) four days after they fell 78-63 to the Hawkeyes in their Big Ten opener to make this No. 1 billing in The Associated Press' poll short-lived.
''Their front line's still unbelievable without Valentine. I can only imagine what it's like with Valentine,'' Murphy said, adding: ''That was some of the best basketball we've played yet. We grew up a lot during that game.''
Freshman Deyonta Davis added 10 points and four rebounds, capably filling a void in the post created by star Denzel Valentine's knee injury.
The Gophers were still within three points with 2:14 left, but Dorsey made one of two free throws to get them within 63-61. Davis deftly followed with a short hook shot on the other end to push the lead to four and then blocked a shot by Murphy.
''We showed some fight, obviously, but a couple looks just didn't go our way,'' Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said.
With Valentine, a preseason All-America, was out for the third straight game and is likely to miss at least another week. Costello, Davis and Gavin Schilling were more than enough down low against undersized Minnesota. But that didn't mean this was easy.
Given the fact the Gophers have held a halftime lead in five of 15 games and been up by more than two points at the intermission just three times, plus the caliber and mindset of this opponent, this was by far their best game of the season.
Looking a lot more organized and inspired than the team that lost at home last month to mid-major foes South Dakota, South Dakota State and Milwaukee, Minnesota confidently matched Michigan State basket for basket for the majority of the game.
Bakary Konate hit a soft hook shot to pull the Gophers within 25-24 and stole the ball from Eron Harris on the other end, bringing the crowd to a crescendo, but a turnaround by Carlos Morris that would have put Minnesota in front bounced off the rim.
On the final possession before the break, Dorsey swished a 3-pointer from the corner off an inbounds play with 0.7 seconds left to cut Michigan State's lead to 32-29 after the Gophers had lost the ball out of bounds.
The Spartans have won 20 of the last 24 games between these teams. This was the first game at Minnesota in the series since Dec. 31, 2012, the only win by the Gophers at home over Michigan State in the last 10 years.
Minnesota: Murphy missed all four of his free throws. The freshman is the worst free-throw shooter on the team at 56.8 percent.
Minnesota plays at Penn State on Tuesday.