2010 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals Recap
Big Ten Tournament - Quarterfinals
(6) Minnesota 72, (3) Michigan State 67
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are a sleeper no more. Minnesota advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament with a 72-67 overtime win over the Michigan State Spartans Friday night in Indianapolis.
Minnesota’s perimeter shooters once again stole the show. Devoe Joseph (17 points), Blake Hoffarber (14), and Lawrence Westbrook (11) led the Gophers’ attack from outside. Center Colton Iverson added 12 points.
Joseph was absolute nails in the clutch, hitting two deep three-pointers in overtime.
Michigan State had to rally late to force OT. The Spartans trailed 55-48 when Korie Lucious hit a deep three-pointer with 3:04 to play that cut the Spartans’ deficit to four. Two Kalin Lucas free throws and a layup by Raymar Morgan tied the score 55-55 with 1:33 left in regulation.
Lucas drove for the would-be game-winning layup in the final seconds, but strong defense forced him to lose the ball out of bounds with 3.9 seconds to play. On the ensuing Gopher possession, Joseph attempted an Evan Turner-style miracle heave, but his off-balance 30-footer hit nothing but glass.
In overtime, however, Joseph was the difference.
After Morgan’s three-point play gave Michigan State a 58-55 lead early in OT, Joseph nailed a contested three to provide an emphatic answer. Westbrook then hit one of two free throws to put Minnesota ahead, 59-58.
It was Lucas’ turn to answer, but the Spartans’ go-to guy bricked a pair of free throws, allowing himself to be upstaged by Joseph. The Canadian sharpshooter nailed a deep three on the ensuing possession to give the Gophers a four-point lead at 62-58.
Morgan, a four-year contributor who shoots 66 percent, joined the Kalin Lucas Brick Brigade by clanking two more key free throws as Michigan State began to lose ground. Once again, the Gophers made Michigan State pay for laying bricks. Westbrook’s three-point play gave the Spartans a 65-58 lead with 1:38 left in OT.
Morgan made a pair of free throws (finally) to give the Spartans a glimmer of hope, trailing by only five. The Spartans pulled within three before the extra period was done, but Minnesota (like you’re supposed to) sealed the win from the free-throw line. Michigan State hit just 18-of-34 free throws overall, and missed six of its 11 attempts in overtime.
As one tries to put this game in perspective, one can’t deny the surprising fact that the Spartans haven’t won the Big Ten tourney since 2000. The league’s most successful program on a national level over the past ten years faces disappointment once again in its own regional backyard.
And oh, by the way, as a result of this victory, Minnesota might be playing for an NCAA Tournament bid on Saturday in the semifinal round of this tournament. No biggie.
Minnesota will face second-seeded Purdue in the semifinals on Saturday. Even without 90-percent free throw shooter Robbie Hummel, Purdue probably won’t give away this game at the foul line the way Michigan State did on Friday night.
However, the Gophers can match up with the powerful Boilermakers. Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson will take turns defending Purdue’s standout big man, JaJuan Johnson, while Devoe Joseph, Blake Hoffarber, Damian Johnson, and Lawrence Westbrook may be better than the Boilermaker guards -- most of them. E’Twaun Moore, who poured in 28 points to lead the Boilermakers past Northwestern, will be difficult to guard as usual.
In Johnson and Moore, Purdue might have the two best players on the floor when they face Minnesota at Conseco Fieldhouse, but Michigan State had the two best players in the Friday night matchup against the Golden Gophers. Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan threw up enough bricks from the free throw line to negate the talent advantage they enjoyed against Minnesota.
The Gophers’ chances will be much better if Johnson gets into foul trouble again. Moore is just as difficult to guard as Lucas, but if Minnesota copies Purdue’s defense-by-committee approach, the Gophers can stop the main Boilermaker playmaker.
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!