The Gophers let a chance for a signature win slip out of their grasp late Saturday in their loss to Michigan State.
They weren’t about to let that happen again.
Minnesota rode a big performance from junior center Elliott Eliason and used some crucial plays down the stretch to pull away late en route to a 63-53 win over No. 11 Ohio State at Williams Arena on Thursday night.
Elliott Eliason led the Gophers with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
DeAndre Mathieu's driving layup with seconds remaining tied the game at 71-71 and sent the game into overtime, but the Gophers ultimately fell to No. 5 Michigan State 87-75 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans dominated the five minutes of extra time outscoring Minnesota 16-4 in front of their home crowd.
The Gophers dropped to 13-4 on the season and to 2-2 in the Big Ten with the loss. Michigan State played the game without senior center Adrien Payne, but managed to improve to 15-1 and move its conference record to 4-0.
The Spartans outscored Minnesota 16-4 in the overtime session.
Richard Pitino has never faced Michigan State as a head coach, but he’s pretty familiar with the players on the squad.
Two years ago, the Gophers head coach was an assistant at Louisville constantly on the recruiting trail. That’s where Pitino caught wind of Gary Harris, a 6-foot-5-foot guard out of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indiana.
“[Pitino] recruited me when he was at Louisville,” Harris said. “I’m happy for him, he’s going to have his team ready.”
Richard Pitino recruited Spartans star Gary Harris while at Louisville.
A series of injuries put the Gophers’ depth to the test Saturday in a matchup with New Orleans at Williams Arena.
Minnesota (8-2) finished with six players in double digits and rolled to an 80-65 win over the Privateers (1-4).
That dispersed production came at a necessary time — both Malik Smith and Elliott Eliason sustained left-ankle injuries heading into the game. Eliason played just four minutes, and Smith didn’t touch the court.