No. 10 Michigan State Tops Minnesota For Izzo’s 400th
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Earlier in the week, Tom Izzo downplayed what his 400th victory would mean to him.
When the Michigan State coach reached the milestone, though, he was overcome with emotion.
Draymond Green had 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists to help the 10th-ranked Spartans beat Minnesota 68-52 Wednesday night for Izzo’s 400th win.
Michigan State (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten) moved into a first-place tie in the conference with its second straight win after losing two in a row.
Izzo was wiping tears off his cheeks during the final seconds because he said his players were congratulating him when they were taken out of the game and went to the bench.
“I know it meant something to them,” Izzo said. “I didn’t realize it before.”
The student section chanted, “Izzo! Izzo!” and “400! 400!” late in the game when only the final score was in doubt.
“I knew he’d cry at the end,” Spartans center Derrick Nix said. “He always wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
Green led his teammates into Izzo’s postgame news conference to present him with a white, commemorative basketball for his milestone win.
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith was gracious in defeat, heaping praise on a coach he has faced for years, dating back to his time at Kentucky.
“He’s a class guy and his teams play extremely hard,” Smith said. “He does things the right way and his teams always come ready to play.”
The Golden Gophers (15-6, 3-5) had won three straight, including their previous two on the road.
“We did some good things,” Smith said. “We just couldn’t finish the right way.”
Rodney Williams scored 15 and Ralph Sampson III had 10 points for the Gophers.
Michigan State led by two midway through the first half when it went on a 16-5 run, leading to a 37-27 advantage at halftime.
The Spartans were up by 13 early in the second half, but Minnesota pulled within five with just under 10 minutes left.
Michigan State responded with five straight points to restore a double-digit cushion and coasted to its 13th straight win at home against the Gophers.
Keith Appling, the Spartans’ second-leading scorer, didn’t make a shot until the final minute of the game and finished with seven points and four assists.
Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson had 16 points to match a season high.
Green matched his highest-scoring game since scoring a career-high 34 points in a win two months ago at Gonzaga and he grabbed at least 10 rebounds for the sixth straight game.
He also did some coaching on the floor.
The senior forward called a play late in the first half while standing on the left side of the lane, directing the three other teammates without the ball to move to the baseline, and the possession ended with him making a short shot off a pass from Appling.
Izzo was much more impressed by Green’s game than his 400th win.
“He was just unbelievable,” Izzo said. “I thought that was one of the better performances a guy has had here.”
Williams wished Minnesota could match up Trevor Mbakwe with Green, but its best player was on the court for just seven games before his right knee buckled in a season-ending injury.
“We missed Trevor,” Williams said. “Draymond Green is probably the best 4-man in the league. He’s a lot stronger than I thought.”
Michigan State made 54 percent of its shots, held the Gophers to 38 percent and outrebounded them by seven.
“We lost the toughness part of it,” Smith said. “They just outphysicaled us in a lot of ways.”
The Spartans, in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten with No. 4 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan, improved to 13-0 at home this season.
They’re off until playing Tuesday at Illinois, giving freshman point guard Travis Trice a chance to rest the hip injury that kept him out of the Minnesota game.
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