#21 Gophers Stay Hot; Dominate #17 Spartans in Historic Fashion
The Minnesota Gophers entered Monday night’s game at The Barn vs Michigan State, coming off of their best two performances of 2020. The Spartans, on the other hand, were coming off of two of their worst.
The polls reflected last week’s trends. The Gophers debuted at #21 in the AP Top-25 poll Monday and the Spartans fell to #17. Those trends stayed on course tonight. Richard Pitino’s squad took control early and never let up on the green and white.
The result was tying the biggest margin of victory Minnesota has ever had over Michigan State in men’s basketball (25 points).
Final Stats from Win #9 👇— Minnesota Men's Basketball (@GopherMBB) December 29, 2020
Carr | 19pts, 4reb, 5ast
Robbins | 18pts, 9reb, 3blk
Johnson | 9pts, 7reb
Kalscheur | 8pts, 5reb
Gach | 6pts, 9reb, 3ast
Williams | 6pts, 3reb, 4ast https://t.co/5WJkk9UEOa
The Gophers gave up just 16 first half points to Michigan State and were leading by 20 entering halftime (36-16). It was complete domination. Minnesota wasn’t playing noticeably well. Instead, Michigan State was just playing that poorly.
I’m not sure what is going on with Tom Izzo’s 2020-21 team. For the Gophers, the first half belonged to Liam Robbins, who the Spartans had no answer for down low, and the usual performance from Marcus Carr.
Things didn’t get better for MSU in the 2nd half. Whatever Tom Izzo team walked into Williams Arena tonight, wasn’t #17 in the country. They did not bring it on any level.
In half number two, Richard Pitino fed the Spartans more of what had been working for him in the 1st half. Marcus Carr + Liam Robbins — and it worked to perfection. If you find me a better college point guard in this country than Marcus Carr, then you will be exposing yourself as a fraud.
There is no better point guard in this country than #5 on the Minnesota Gophers. He showed it again tonight, racking up his 19 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Oh, and Carr has yet to turn the ball over more than 4 times in a game so far this season.
Liam Robbins continues to improve every time he steps on the floor and you can see his confidence grow each night out. He stayed out of foul trouble in this game and the Spartans smaller interior defenders had absolutely no answer for Robbins in the paint.
No matter what angle or side Liam was shooting from tonight, the ball was going in the basket. He finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. He shot 7/11 from the floor and two of those misses were from deep.
Robbins will be a force all season and he’s a massive pickup for Pitino.
Gophers shouldn’t get too high on themselves
The Minnesota Gophers didn’t play poorly Monday night, by any means, but they didn’t play all that well either. Michigan State is now 0-3 in the Big Ten and, according to the game broadcast, tonight is the first time they’ve lost at Williams Arena since 2012.
Wing shooting continued to be a problem for Pitino’s team vs MSU. Gabe Kalscheur and Both Gach combined 1/8 from behind the arc and totalled just 15 points. Both players are crucial to the defense Pitino wants to play so getting them back in rhythm offensively is a big deal.
We’ve discussed Minnesota’s current 7-game gauntlet of a stretch at length recently. They’ve now started that stretch 2-0.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan