At least until the Gophers are down by 20.
In the same conference room as yesterday with the same lunch. Wearing my lucky maroon sweater (Gophers 4-0 when I wear it). Let's hope for a miracle. Fully expected Westbrook to try to do too much today.
19:00 - Nolen falls down and turns the ball over. Nice offense. They didn't even bother to cross the 3-point line at any point. Already down 3-0.
18:44 - Just got an email from Snacks that Joe Lunardi has moved the Gophers to "lock" status for the tournament. Lunardi is the guy I'd trust the most, so that feels good.
18:13 - Another turnover as Shamala let's the ball go right through his hands. Ugh.
17:26 - DJ for three. Don't like the shot, but it fell. Another bad shot, this time Westbrook with a pull up three in transition, but again, he made it so who am I to argue?
16:45 - Westie with a steal and a layup. Gophers looking very good right now, fueled by some legitimately excellent defense. Next possession he tosses up a horrible running one handed hook shot thing from about 15 feet. I will never figure this guy out.
15:45 - Gophers lead 10-6 at the first timeout. Defense is looking really, really good and Sparty's only points are two Kalin Lucas three-pointers. If they can limit them to perimeter shots and keep them out of the paint they have a chance, but definitely have to keep Sparty off the offensive boards. The offense has looked good as well, mainly fueled by transition opportunities. Very loosey goosey out there. I'm thinking they aren't feeling the pressure after beating NW yesterday, and it's resulting in some very good play right now.
15:45 - Sweet jesus, they are now spending time putting different hair styles on Tom Izzo's picture. I'm serious. Like, they gave him a bald head, a Barry Melrose mullet, and other "famous" hairstyles. Nice job ESPN, you couldn't be more retarded. WHO'S MORE NOW???
15:07 - Chris Allen for three. I hate that guy. Absolute killer. He shoots like Hoffarber should shoot.
14:33 - Bostick on the board with a long lob pass alley-lay up thing. They are essentially playing with very little structure right now, and it's working. Bostick tips in a missed Iverson free throw, and the Gophers lead 16-13.
12:59 - Raymar Morgan with two fouls. That helps. Now if only they could find some way to contain Marquise Gray.
12:29 - Wow. Paul Carter (Quincy Lewis-lite) grabs an O-board and absolutely wrestles it away from the Spartans and completes a three-point play. Very impressive. I have no idea what team I'm watching right now.
11:52 - That god damn Allen hits a three from about three feet behind the line with 2 seconds on the shot clock. I seriously hate that guy. Gophers up 1 at the 12 minute timeout. Switched it up to a man-to-man from the 1-3-1 they were playing and I applaud this decision, as well as the decision to have Al Nolen on the bench. I don't think they can keep this up all game, but they are playing great right now and giving Michigan State everything they can handle.
11:45 - I might have to go to Canada for a few days for work. I'm terrified. Isn't Canada just a shitty version of Wisconsin? But colder?
11:03 - Erin Andrews lets us know that the Gophers are outrebounding the Spartans 10-3. Makes sense, the sheer effort and energy the Gophers are expending out there so far is impressive. It's as if they had 10 Travis Busches, but if they were all talented and not just a more annoying basketball version of Rudy. I still think they all want to punch him in the face.
9:09 - From Myron Medcalf's blog, as found by Inflection Point over at the Daily Gopher:
“Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said that he had to apologize to Bostick recently for not playing him more often. Smith said he’s been so focused on Bostick’s defensive lapses that he’s sometimes failed to realize how much his offense could help the team. We’ll see if he gets some more minutes against Michigan State Friday.”
I always knew Tubby read my bits.
9:06 - Erin Andrews now reports that Chester Frazier is injured and out for the Illinois/Michigan game tonight, and the Illini won't release any further details. Man, that would really hurt them if he's out for the tournament. They don't have anybody else who can play the point really. And don't say Jeff Jordan.
8:38 - Musberger just said, "Busch is on the floor" with disbelief in his voice. I feel the same way Brent, only with more anger and confusion.
8:14 - Crap, Summers misses two free throws, but the Gophers can't keep Marquise off the boards and then foul him as well. I wrote before the first game between these two that Gray might be a guy the Gophers would have to worry about. I was wrong then, but it looks correct now as Gray has 9 points already and hit both free throws to give the Spartans a 23-22 lead.
7:37 - Spartans still with the same lead as we head to timeout, Sampson will be on the line when we get back and should give the Gophers the lead or at least tie it up. Gophers still looking good, but the offense is stalling a bit (could be because Nolen and Busch are both in). Defense still looks good overall, but Spartans are starting to hit the offensive boards pretty hard. Even with Morgan and Suton on the bench with foul trouble they can't keep them off.
7:34 - hits just 1, tie game. Probably because they showed a shot of a heroin-addicted satan before his second attempt. I mean his dad.
6:13 - This game needs more Bostick.
5:57 - I knew Tubby was reading. Bostick in, posts up, and hits an incredible turnaround fadeaway. Like the Kobe Bryant style fadeaway I didn't even know he had. I think I motivated him.
4:58 - Westbrook has now turned it over on back-to-back possessions. Are we seeing evil Westbrook today?
3:55 - Michigan State up 1 at the timeout. Westie had the ball knocked out of his hands again, but the Gophers managed to recover it. He probably needs to sit and think about what he's done for a while. Another thing is the lack of the post up game. I don't know that I've seen Sampson or Iverson get the ball in the post at all today. With Suton out, this seems like it would be a good time to try it. Overall no real complaints about the offense.
3:06 - Once again, Tubby's reading as they try to get it to Sampson on the block who draws a holding call and hits both free throws to put the Gophers back on top 28-27.
0:57 - Gophers score on a beautiful 2-on-1 break with Joseph hitting Bostick for the layup to go back up 30-29. A great run out off a long rebound with Chris Allen actually missing a three pointer, which is a minor miracle all by itself.
HALFTIME - Michigan State leads 33-30 at the half after Lucas puts back his own miss at the buzzer. I can't complain about much, the Gophers are playing really well and are right there with a team that might end up being a number 1 seed. Raymar Morgan and Goran Suton have barely played, leading to the Gophers having an edge in rebounding, and we'll have to see how things shake out in the second half when those guys get back into the game. If the Gophers can keep playing tough defense the way they have been and keep creating transition opportunities, they have a chance. And it's probably time to abandon the high pick-and-roll. The Gophers keep trying it over and over, but Michigan State is way too good at defending it and it's just not working.
19:22 - Morgan dunk to open the half following a Gopher miss. Sparty up five. Feels like we're in a real dangerous time right here.
18:32 - Might have spoken too soon. Back-to-back turnovers for MSU.
16:50 - Still just a two point Spartan lead, but the Gopher offense is really not looking good right now. They've had to rush a shot and/or drive with the shot clock winding down on every possession this half.
14:25 - Sparty up to a six point lead at the timeout and something disturbing just happened. Bostick had post up position on the block against Lucas, and Nolen waved him away to clear out so he could drive. It worked out, and Sampson will be going to the line after a dish from Nolen, but I don't like it at all. Bostick has at least 4 or 5 inches on Lucas, and should have been given the ball.
14:25 - Ralph misses both free throws, then has the rebound come right to him and lets it go through his hands to Michigan State. Good news is they have the Hoffarber/Joseph/Bostick perimeter group in right now, so we could see a run.
13:21 - Another back door lob for a Spartan dunk, and they somehow keep getting behind the Gopher zone. That needs to stop if they want to get back in this. Now down 8.
12:57 - You know what I wish? I wish, just once, Tubby would diagram a play when they are in a timeout and the Gophers will have the ball coming out. Just once. Actually, strike that, I just wish he would CALL a play in a timeout.
11:44 - Now down 10 as Raymar Morgan takes it right at DJ and says, "I got your consideration for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year right here pal." Ugh. This one's getting ugly, and Westbrook just keeps flinging up any shot that pops into his fat head.
11:25 - The Gophers have four assists. In the whole game.
9:38 - Does Westbrook have a tattoo of himself on his arm? Also Al Nolen is god damn awful.
7:20 - 49-40 Michigan State. Gophers looking like they're running out of gas. And Al Nolen sucks.
7:05 - You know, it's not the reason they are losing 51-41 right now, but the piss poor free throw shooting by the Gophers certainly isn't helping things.
5:46 - Missed three by Devoe, bringing the team's three point shooting to 2-14 for the game. Usually when they shoot shitty like that (read: almost every game) it's because they're taking horrible shot after horrible shot. Today they're taking pretty good shots, but are just missing them. Down 9, they are going to need to get it going from out there if they want to get back in this.
4:45 - DJ hits a three to make it an 8 point game after giving up a wide open layup to the Spartans.
4:10 - Missed shot, offensive rebound, foul, missed free throw, offensive rebound, bucket. Gophers down 10. Sigh.
FINAL - 64-56 Sparty wins.
Well, it was a pretty decent effort. The Gophers looked good for a half+, and I actually now have hope that they could win a first round game. As for Michigan State, they are back to being a hell of a good team. Good guards, good shooting, good big men, good athletes, deep bench, great defensively and on the boards. I think I could probably talk myself into putting these guys in the final four if the matchups fall right.