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Gophers Spanked by Spartans
February 13, 2018

Those who arrived at Williams Arena Tuesday night expecting to view Michigan State’s All-American and sure NBA lottery pick Miles Bridges perform left disappointed as Bridges never broke a sweat, preferring instead to let teammate Jaren Jackson and others do the heavy lifting in a 87-57 rout of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The 6-11 freshman center Jackson single-handily destroyed the undermanned Gopher squad in the first half with four three-point baskets while other Spartans added six more from beyond the arc. MSU’s three-point success rate was 83 percent.

Minnesota simply could not cope with the Spartans who raced to a 27-10 lead on a conventional two-point basket by Jackson, who had 16 of his eventual 27 points by halftime. For Michigan State, it was like clubbing baby seals as the Gophers offered little resistance and trailed by 43-25 at the end of the period.

“Offensively,” aid Spartan coach Tom Izzo after the game, “we did what we wanted to do. It was Jeron’s [Jackson] best game on both ends of the court. He needed to step up, and he did.”

The second half was more of the same, although Minnesota did inch to within 43-30 on an Isiah Washington layup basket. This served to awaken the Spartan juggernaut and soon the lead jumped to 59-35 on yet another Jackson three-pointer.

Forced by injuries and suspensions to start the unreliable duo of Michael Hunt and Bakary Konate, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino got only two points from the pair. Meanwhile, stellar guard Nate Mason was having an off night, and power forward Jordan Murphy was beseiged with foul trouble.

The lead reached 81-48 before Izzo emptied his brnch and called off the dogs. The Gophers managed a whimper of response, capped with a three-pointer by Washington, who led the team in scoring with 18 points.

“Michigan State,” said Pitino, “is long, big, and talented. They could be national champions.”

The Spartans’ season record is now 25-3. “The question now,” said Izzo, “is can we embrace the pressure that record brings.”

The MSU coach indicated he could find sympathy for Minnesota’s current plight (one win in the last dozen games).

Pitino is fond of saying that “no one feels sorry for us.” He was wrong. Tom Izzo does.

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