MSU gets pounded by No. 21 Minnesota 81-56


Rocket Watts warms up before MSU takes on Minnesota/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Brian Goldsmith, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING— After losing to Wisconsin 85-76 on Dec. 25, Michigan State (6-3) was in search of their first conference win of the year. However, a paltry shooting performance in the first half doomed the Spartans, who lost to the No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers 81-56. 

With the loss, the Spartans dropped to 0-3 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 2001-02 season.  The Golden Gophers improved to 9-1 on the season, as well as 2-1 in Big Ten play.

Aaron Henry led the Spartans in scoring with 11 points. Minnesota guard Marcus Carr scored a game-high 19 points; forward Liam Robbins chipped in with 18 points and nine rebounds. 

After committing seven turnovers against Wisconsin, Henry lost his starting spot to Spartan guard Foster Loyer.

The Spartans struggled from the opening tip. Minnesota began the game on a 9-0 run before Loyer drilled a 3-pointer, his only points of the half. He finished with eight points on the night.

MSU trimmed their deficit to 11-7 with 13:31 remaining In the first half, but a terrible shooting spell caused the deficit to balloon rapidly.  The Spartans trailed by as much as 20 points in the first half. 

The Spartans tallied a season-low 16 points in the first half, and as a result, they trailed Minnesota 36-16. Overall, MSU shot 6-of-38 from the floor, good for a meager 15.8% shooting percentage. 

The 16 points were the fewest in a half since 2014. 

Malik Hall
Malik Hall warms up before MSU takes on Minnesota/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Joey Hauser led the Spartans in scoring with four points at the break. Hauser ended the first half going 1-of-6 from the field and 0-of-4 behind the arc. He finished with six points on 1-of-8 shooting. 

Robbins and Carr combined for 22 of Minnesota’s 36 points in the first half on 9-of-14 shooting. The Golden Gophers made all nine of their first-half free-throws. 

Michigan State made a few halftime adjustments, which led to an offensive boost. 

The Spartans scored 40 points in the second half on 37.5% shooting, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota extended their lead to 28; they led 75-47 with 2:50 remaining. The Gopher offense continued to dominate as the Spartans allowed 44 points in the second half on 54.6% shooting. 

Minnesota shot 47.6% in the game. The Spartans only shot 25.6% in the game, the lowest total since 2012 when the Spartans lost 42-41 to Illinois. 

Gabe Brown warms up before MSU takes on
Minnesota/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic

Despite the awful shooting,  MSU was smart with the ball; they only committed six turnovers. Freshman guard A.J. Hoggard and forward Mady Sissoko saw valuable minutes as well. 

Hoggard scored nine points and shot 4-of-9 from the field, a career-high. Sissoko added six rebounds in 12 minutes of action. 

 MSU will travel to Lincoln on Saturday, where they will face off against Nebraska, who is also struggling mightily this season. The Spartans desperately need a win to avoid starting 0-4 in Big Ten play for the first time ever in Tom Izzo’s tenure.