1 p.m. at No. 9 Michigan State • ESPN, 100.3-FM
Spartans have not looked like a top-10 team in recent games
Preview: The Gophers (16-7, 6-6 Big Ten) will try to bounce back from their first back-to-back losses of the season after dropping games at Purdue 73-63 on Sunday and 56-51 vs. Wisconsin at home Wednesday. The Badgers were held to 34.5 percent shooting, but the cold shooting was contagious with Minnesota going 35 percent from the floor, including 1-for-13 from three-point range. Sophomore C Eric Curry, who has started the past five games, is a game-time decision (calf). The No. 9 Spartans (18-5, 9-3) are on a three-game losing streak. The first of those losses was at Purdue, but that was followed by an overtime home loss to Indiana, which entered with a seven-game losing streak, and a loss at Illinois in which the Spartans had 24 turnovers. Coach Tom Izzo’s depth took a big hit when G Joshua Langford was lost for the season last month because of a foot injury.
Players to watch: Gophers senior Jordan Murphy, who had 15 points and 19 rebounds in the Wisconsin loss, was named Thursday to the top-10 list for the Karl Malone Award, given to the nation’s top power forward. Michigan State G Cassius Winston was playing like the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year during the first half of conference play. Winston is the only player in the nation averaging at least 18 points, seven assists and shooting 44 percent from three-point range. He has scored 23 points or more the seven of the past 11 games, including a season-high 29 points Jan. 17 vs. Nebraska.
Numbers: The Gophers are vying for their first road victory over a top-10 team since beating No. 7 Indiana 77-74 on Jan. 12, 2012. Their last victory at Breslin Center came 96-90 in overtime vs. the No. 25 Spartans in Pitino’s second season in 2014-15.