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Associated Press, Published February 06 2013

Gophers fall to No. 12 Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State is banged up, and it keeps getting worse for the 12th-ranked Spartans. At least they’re winning while they pile up the injuries.

Gary Harris scored 15 points while playing through a back ailment and Keith Appling added 14 points before leaving with an injury, leading Michigan State to a 61-50 victory over No. 18 Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Harris played after being knocked out of the previous game with back spasms and was limited in practice early in the week.

“Gary hit a couple big shots, the guy has ice in his veins and is tougher than nails,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “He could barely go. It was one of the guttier performances in my career.”

Appling left the court with 1:17 left, holding his right shoulder after getting tied up with Joe Coleman. He returned to the bench in the final minute, but couldn’t play because of his shoulder injury.

“It popped out, then went right back in,” Appling said.

The Spartans lack depth in the backcourt because Travis Trice, Appling’s backup, hasn’t been cleared after following a head injury last week and Brandan Kearney transferred to Arizona State. Their frontcourt took a hit when Adreian Payne got elbowed in the face, and left the court with a bloody nose for part of the second half, while Branden Dawson was slowed by a sprained right ankle.

“I might have to play a little different with three games in six days,” Izzo said.

The Spartans (19-4 8-2 Big Ten) moved into a second-place tie with No. 3 Michigan, which visits East Lansing on Tuesday night after playing Saturday night at Purdue. They picked up their eighth win in nine games since losing the conference opener against the Golden Gophers on the road.

Minnesota (17-6, 5-5), meanwhile, has lost five of its last seven games.

“We still believe,” Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe said. “We’ve got five losses, but we still are going to win – and win out.”

Michigan State took control of the rematch with a 21-4 run, after trailing by five points early in the second half, to take a 41-29 lead.

The Gophers didn’t have a scorer in double figures until Austin Hollins’ 3-pointer with 3:38 left got them within five. Hollins finished with 11 points. Coleman was one of his three teammates with nine points.

Minnesota’s three-guard lineup combined to make just 10 of 34 shots. Appling and Harris made almost half of their 21 attempts.

“That was the difference,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said.

MINNESOTA (17-6): An. Hollins 4-11 0-0 11, Coleman 3-10 2-2 9, Au. Hollins 3-13 2-4 8, Mbakwe 3-5 3-4 9, Williams 3-5 2-4 9, Welch 1-1 0-1 2, Ellenson 0-1 0-0 0, Osenieks 0-0 0-0 0, Ahanmisi 0-1 0-0 0, Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Ingram 0-0 0-0 0, Eliason 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-49 9-15 50.

MICHIGAN ST. (19-4): Payne 2-5 7-8 11, Appling 5-10 1-2 14, Harris 5-11 1-1 15, Dawson 3-6 1-5 7, Nix 2-6 2-2 6, Byrd 0-2 0-0 0, Gauna 0-1 0-0 0, Costello 0-0 0-0 0, Valentine 3-5 0-2 8. Totals 20-46 12-20 61.

Halftime: Minnesota 20-18. 3-Point Goals: Minnesota 5-17 (An. Hollins 3-7, Coleman 1-1, Williams 1-2, Au. Hollins 0-7), Michigan St. 9-18 (Harris 4-8, Appling 3-4, Valentine 2-4, Byrd 0-2). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Minnesota 38 (Mbakwe 14), Michigan St. 28 (Payne 7). Assists: Minnesota 8 (Au. Hollins 3), Michigan St. 12 (Harris 4). Total Fouls: Minnesota 17, Michigan St. 14. A: 14,797.