Gophers Ride True Freshman Cam Christie to Program Changing Win Over Michigan State

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Gophers hosted the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night at Williams Arena in a game they needed to have in order to boost themselves up and into NCAA Tournament conversations around the country.

Related: Everything Changes for Ben Johnson’s Gophers with Win Over Michigan State Tonight

From the opening tip, Ben Johnson’s Gophers went toe-to-toe with Sparty, taking a 27-27 tie into halftime. But when Michigan State held a nine point lead with 12 minutes remaining, the Golden Gophers’ March Madness hopes were feeling bleak.

True Freshman Cam Christie leads Minnesota Gophers to win over Michigan State

Until true freshman Cam Christie said, ‘bet’. At the 11:13 mark in the 2nd half, a Cam Christie three pointer and-1 opportunity cut the Spartans’ lead to five. Another Christie three, 50 seconds later, cut it to two. And from then on out, there was a dog fight at the Barn.

I’ve written about it before and I hope to do it again early and often. Cam Christie is a future superstar. You can just see it in his shot and the way he finds openings and takes advantage of leverage and space both in the paint and on the perimeter.

When you watch a lot of basketball, you know when someone sticks out as better than what you’re used to seeing and Cam is that dude. I don’t know what Dinkytown Athletes will have to pay Christie to get him to stay in Minnesota but I hope they’re able to back up the BRINKS truck because they’ll likely need it.

Christie is Ben Johnson’s miracle

Fun fact: Cam Christie chose the Gophers over the Spartans, even though his older brother Max Christie (currently in the NBA) was a star at Michigan State. How Ben got Cam to turn his shoulder on Tom Izzo and the Spartans may never fully come to light… but it may have saved Johnson’s job and that’s not an exaggeration.

When the dust settled on Tuesday night’s festivities in Dinkytown, the Gophers walked away with a postseason-saving 59-56 victory, their first quad-one win of the season and a dub that should launch them up the NET rankings on Wednesday morning (#91 on Tuesday).

Related: Minnesota Gophers Cam Christie Earns Big Ten Freshman of the Week Honors

Cam finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds, shooting 5-of-7 from deep (5/8 from the field). Dawson Garcia hit a big time shot late too and Sophomore Pharrel Payne yet again looked like the most imposing force on the court for much of the contest.

There’s no doubt Ben Johnson’s 2023-24 team has the talent to compete with any squad in the Big Ten and they proved that vs Sparty. Next up, Minnesota has Iowa on Sunday in Iowa City. Much like tonight, it’s feel like a must-win, if they want to stay on pace to climb back into the March Madness conversation.

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