Michigan State’s Tom Izzo can’t seem to praise Draymond Green enough. The Spartans’ coach also doesn’t lack ways to express his frustration when it comes to some of the sloppy ball-handling by some of Green’s teammates.
Green will try to lead No. 7 Michigan State to its 11th straight win at home over Minnesota on Wednesday night.
The Spartans (13-3, 3-0 Big Ten) are 9-0 at home this season, winning by an average of 19.7 points. They return to East Lansing looking to extend their domination at the Breslin Center following Saturday’s 71-53 victory at Iowa.
Green came off the bench to tie Kalin Lucas with a team-high 14 points. Green, though, also pulled down 11 rebounds in 19 minutes as Michigan State shot 55.1 percent and held a 38-22 edge on the boards.
The Spartans lead the Big Ten in scoring at 79.9 points, and one of their biggest contributors has been Green, who is second on the team with 11.3 points per game. He is also the leading rebounder (7.9) despite coming off the bench in 13 games this season.
“He’s just all over the place doing a lot of great things,” Izzo said. “He’s going out and finding ways to score points. He doesn’t need anyone passing him the ball. When you’ve got that for a sixth man, boy you’ve got a diamond.”
While lauding Green, Izzo still has some criticism for the Spartans’ lack of ball control. Michigan State is near the top of the conference with 237 turnovers, and now faces a Minnesota team that has forced 306 to rank among the highest in the Big Ten.
Lucas has been especially prone to giving the ball up, leading the team with 42 turnovers despite having only two against Iowa.
Izzo acknowledges the speed of the offense puts his team at greater risk for committing turnovers, but also said the number is still unacceptable.
“Is it ever going to be as low as some teams?” Izzo said. “The answer is no, but I think with the quality of guards we have it shouldn’t be where it’s at either and it should be the kind we’re having.”
Michigan State beat Minnesota three times last season, including in the conference tournament. The Spartans have won six in a row over the Gophers overall and 10 straight at home against them.
Minnesota (12-4, 3-1) has split two games against ranked opponents, beating former No. 12 Butler in November followed by a 19-point loss at then-No. 4 Purdue on Jan. 5.
The Gophers bounced back from that defeat with a 73-62 win over Ohio State on Saturday.
Minnesota made 11 3-pointers and outscored the Buckeyes 22-7 at the free-throw line. Guard Blake Hoffarber scored a career-high 27 points, going 7 of 9 from beyond the arc.
Hoffarber, who is second on the team with 12.3 ppg, has scored 20 or more in four of his last seven games. He leads the team in 3-point percentage at 52.1 and is 33 of 53 from long range over the last seven games.
That’s a big reason why the Gophers are second in the Big Ten in scoring at 78.9 points.
“A lot of teams right now are staying on me and trying not to give me an open 3-point shot, and that’s why I’m trying to move without the ball and get some easy ones in transition,” Hoffarber said.
However, the junior has struggled against ranked opponents this season, scoring a combined 15 points while shooting 36.4 percent.
Minnesota has lost 37 straight road games against Top 25 foes since a 55-54 win over then-No. 24 Michigan on Feb. 26, 1997.
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