Seeking ninth straight win, No. 10 Michigan State meets Minnesota
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No. 10 Michigan State will try to stay unbeaten in Big Ten Conference play when it opposes Minnesota on Wednesday night in East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State (13-2, 4-0 Big Ten) has won eight consecutive games overall. The Spartans have bounced back nicely from a season ago, when they went 9-11 in the Big Ten and 15-13 overall.
Part of Michigan State's success can be attributed to the arrival of freshman Max Christie, who is averaging 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Christie is coming off a season-high, 21-point performance on 7-for-9 shooting, including 3-of-4 success from beyond the arc.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo praised Christie for staying determined after an early-season slump.
"I never really saw him lose confidence, other than maybe one week," Izzo said. "And that's when I tell him, Michael Jordan misses shots and other people miss shots. He's very hard on himself, which is a great quality until it works in reverse, and it was for about a week.
"But he just got in there, he kept shooting, a few little adjustments on his shot. He was swinging the ball a little bit, but his shot has looked good ever since I've seen him shoot. I love the way he approached it, and he's in here every day taking care of his body. He just does everything the right way. Max deserves what he's got."
Gabe Brown leads Michigan State with an average of 14.5 points per game. Marcus Bingham is next at 10.5 points per contest.
Minnesota (10-3, 1-3) has cooled off after a terrific start to the season under first-year head coach Ben Johnson. The Golden Gophers are looking to regain their stride after back-to-back losses against Illinois and Indiana.
Johnson said his players could learn from their most recent game against the Hoosiers.
"We knew we were going to have to live with open shots," Johnson said. "Their biggest disappointment is they thought they had a chance. Anytime you can be on the road and take the lead in the middle of the second half, you've done enough to give yourself a chance. We just didn't finish it right."
Jamison Battle leads Minnesota with 18.2 points per game to go along with 6.2 rebounds. Payton Willis (15.8 points per game) and E.J. Stephens (10.8) also are averaging in double digits.
This will be the second matchup of the season between Michigan State and Minnesota. The Spartans won the first meeting 75-67 on Dec. 8 in Minneapolis.
Brown, Tyson Walker and Malik Hall each scored 15 points for Michigan State in the earlier contest against Minnesota. The Spartans combined to shoot 48.1 percent from the field (25 of 52) and 47.6 percent from 3-point range (10 of 21).
Eric Curry led the Golden Gophers with 18 points on 9-for-14 shooting in the teams' first meeting. Battle added 17 points and eight rebounds, but the Gophers struggled overall, shooting 39.7 percent from the field (27 of 68) and 26.1 percent from long distance (6 of 23).
--Field Level Media
Updated January 11, 2022