One thing the Gophers have this year that they haven't in years past: Malik Smith.

He made the difference early.

Smith hit on 3 of 5 from deep and scored 11 points in the first half.

One thing the Gophers have this year that they've had in years past: Andre Hollins.

He made the difference later.

Hollins attacked from the perimeter and made a few nice plays attacking the rim as he collected 10 points and three rebounds in the first half.

Yes, Minnesota shot lights out from three (7 for 12), but so did Michigan State (6 for 11 -- largely thanks to big man Kenny Kaminski, 4 for 4 ... Wow!).

The difference in this one early is the Gophers are playing mistake-free basketball. Minnesota committed just two turnovers, while the Spartans committed five. Can the Gophers continue to play clean hoops as the pressure cranks up in the second half? 

And the production down-low has been solid for the Gophers as well. Elliott Eliason has taken control for Minnesota down low. He has five points, six boards and three blocks on the interior -- clearly taking advantage of Adriean Payne missing the game with a right foot sprain. The unexpected contribution from the big men has come from Joey King. King has six points and two boards and is outperforming Sparty's Branden Dawson (0 points, 3 boards).