WASHINGTON (AP) — Reggie Lynch returned from taking a forearm to the face and scored 16 points to lead fourth-seeded Minnesota to a 63-58 victory over fifth-seeded Michigan State on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
The Big Ten defensive player of the year was dynamic at each end of the court, and his return sparked an 8-0 second-half run for the Golden Gophers (24-8), who advance to face Michigan in the semifinals. Lynch doubled his season scoring average and had five blocked shots to stymie the Spartans (19-14).
Lynch took an inadvertent forearm to the face early in the second half and left the court with a towel over it. He missed only 1:19 and was the catalyst for Minnesota beating Tom Izzo’s tournament-tested bunch.
Amir Coffey added 13 points for Minnesota, which had four players in double figures and committed only nine turnovers.
Freshman Miles Bridges led Michigan State with 20 points but was 7 of 20 from the floor. He was a big part of the Spartans’ perimeter problems as they shot 20 percent from 3-point territory.
SPRINGS ON CRUTCHES
Minnesota guard Akeem Springs left the game with 3:57 remaining and came back onto the sideline in the final minute with the aid of crutches. Springs scored six points in 28 minutes before getting injured.
Michigan State: Is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble short of 20 wins and will be at the mercy of the selection committee.
Minnesota: Entering with the No. 20 RPI, NCAA Tournament seeding is only improving with each victory by coach Richard Pitino’s group, which has experienced an incredible turnaround after going 8-23 last season.
Michigan State: Awaits Selection Sunday.
Minnesota: Faces Michigan in the early semifinal Saturday afternoon. Minnesota beat Michigan 83-78 in overtime Feb. 19 in the teams’ only meeting.