No. 7 Michigan State holds off Minnesota 60-53
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Durrell Summers has the potential to be Michigan State’s best player.
When the seventh-ranked Spartans needed him most against Minnesota, he delivered.
Summers scored all but one of his 13 points during a sluggish first half to help Michigan State beat the Golden Gophers 60-53 Wednesday night.
His slam put the Spartans ahead for good with 4:23 left in the first half and he had a block, rebound and layup over the next 40 seconds.
“That’s when we were getting our tails kicked,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “That’s when we definitely turned the game.”
Kalin Lucas scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and shut down Minnesota guard Blake Hoffarber, helping the Spartans avoid blowing an 11-point lead.
The Spartans (14-3, 4-0 Big Ten) moved into a first-place tie with Illinois in the conference and will host the Fighting Illini on Saturday.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Izzo said.
Lawrence Westbrook had 15 points and Damian Johnson scored 14 for the Golden Gophers (12-5, 3-2).
Minnesota has lost seven straight in the series and 11 in a row at Michigan State.
“It’s tough,” Westbrook said. “I’ve never won here and this was the best chance we’ll ever have to beat them here.”
The Gophers had a shot thanks to Westbrook.
Michigan State built some double-digit leads early in the second half, but Westbrook scored 10 straight points to give Minnesota comeback hopes. The Gophers pulled within three with 3 minutes to go when Ralph Sampson III tipped in a putback, then the Spartans made the shots and stops to seal the win.
“Our kids played hard, but there were some things we didn’t do down the stretch,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. “We had a couple turnovers at the end that really cost us.”
Hoffarber scored just four points after he had a career-high 27 in the previous game, a win over Ohio State, and scored 20-plus points in four of seven games. But Hoffarber combined to score only 15 points in his previous two games this season against ranked teams.
“Kalin really locked up Blake,” Izzo said.
The Spartans got fired up when Minnesota center Colton Iverson landed an elbow on Derrick Nix’s chin—and was called for a foul—after grabbing a rebound in a closely contested game with 5:11 left in the first half.
“When someone tries to punk us in our own house, we weren’t going to let that happen,” Michigan State’s Delvon Roe said.
Westbrook insisted the blow wasn’t intentional.
“The guy was hanging all over him,” Westbrook said. “He had to clear some space.”
Hoffarber then made his only shot of the first half to put the Gophers ahead, but Summers’ alley-oop dunk 13 seconds later put Michigan State up 22-21 and it didn’t trail again.
“That elbow got the crowd going and got us energized,” Summers said.
The Gophers, though, wouldn’t go away quietly.
Michigan State led 33-25 at halftime and appeared as though it might cruise to an easy victory when Roe’s layup put the Spartans ahead 38-27 early in the second half.
But Westbrook made a runner, a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers to lead a one-man rally that fell short, leading to the Gophers’ 38th straight loss on the road against ranked teams since winning at Michigan in 1997.
“Good teams do what Michigan State does,” Smith said. “They find a way to win games.”