Cam Christie leads Gophers to 59-56 win over Michigan State

When the Gophers traveled to Michigan State in mid-January, Cam Christie had to deal with a “Max is better!” chant from Spartans fans.

Minnesota’s true freshman guard is not yet in the NBA like his older brother, but Cam showed he’s pretty dang good in his own right in a rematch against the Spartans on Tuesday.

Christie produced a team-high 19 points, hit a career-high five 3-pointers and sank two clutch free throws in the Gophers’ 59-56 win at Williams Arena.

When Christie repeatedly heard that personalized chant two weeks ago about Max — who played for the Spartans and now the L.A. Lakers — he said he saw it coming and just laughed it off. But it stung, especially because he had fouled out in that 76-66 defeat on Jan. 18.

On Tuesday at the Barn, Cam got the final word and told the KFAN postgame show his competitive nature surfaced and he wanted to “shut people up.”

Minnesota (15-7, 6-5 Big Ten) picked up its first Quad 1 win of the season. The Gophers, 91st in NET ranking, the tool used to evaluate teams for the NCAA Tournament, had gone 0-3 in Quad 1 games going into Tuesday. The Spartans sat at 22nd in NET.

The Gophers, a 3.5-point underdog, moved into fourth place in the conference standings. The U now has a winning record through 11 conference games for the first time since 2019.

Michigan State (14-9, 6-6) didn’t make a basket for almost three full minutes to end the game. Johnson credited the Gophers defense, holding the Spartans 19 points below their season average.

“Don’t kid yourself; that’s a good basketball team,” Tom Izzo said. With the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer saying he was “out-coached” by Ben Johnson.

With the score tied 52-52, Dawson Garcia hit a wing 3-pointer to give Minnesota a lead with 1:27 remaining. Then as 20 seconds remained and the score still 55-52, Elijah Hawkins was called for a touch foul on A.J. Hoggard on a 3-point attempt. But Hoggard made the first two but missed the third.

Christie grabbed the rebound, was fouled, went to the line and made both free throws for a 57-54 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Johnson has called Christie “fearless,” and the reigning Big Ten freshman of the week lived up to that label late in a big conference win. Johnson said there wasn’t one moment that exemplified his bravery on Tuesday.

“Everything he does,” Johnson said. “But I’ver seen it. I’ve seen it in high school. He’s one of those guys that when you see it, you know it. Not everybody has that innate instinct to them. But he does. Whatever that it is, he’s got that. Not fear the moment. Isn’t scared to fail. Wants the ball. Wants the shot.”

Christie played a season-low 16 minutes in the loss to the Spartans. “It definitely fueled me,” Christie said. “I went into that game with a chip in my shoulder excited to play there and unfortunately it got cut short due to me fouling out. I had to make some adjustments and make sure not to foul out of this game because that would have been tragic. Then just display what I do best.”

Gophers forward Parker Fox has seen Christie become the complete package.

“I see it everyday,” Fox said. “I think just the way he approaches everything he does. Forget about basketball. The way he approaches life. The kind of dude he is off the court. The kind of dude he is hanging out with us in the dorms. I truly believe that good things happen to good people, and he’s a good dude.”

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