Minnesota's Andre Hollins (1) puts up a layup against Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis
February 26, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Carlos Morris missed a free throw that could have won the game in stunning fashion - but by that point, the hardest part was already over for Minnesota.

Morris made a tying 3-pointer while being fouled with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, and although he missed the ensuing free throw, the Golden Gophers controlled the overtime for a 96-90 win over Michigan State on Thursday night. Minnesota snapped a 15-game losing streak in East Lansing, taking advantage of the Spartans' poor free throw shooting in the final minutes.

''We've got a long way to go but that was big,'' Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. ''If (Morris) hits a free throw I might have cut down the nets, but that's OK.''

The Gophers (17-12, 6-10 Big Ten) were down 75-69 when Morris connected from 3-point range near the top of the key with 28 seconds left in the second half. Denzel Valentine pushed the lead to five with a pair of free throws, but Minnesota's Joey King leaned into contact and drew a three-shot foul, converting each free throw to make it 77-75.

Valentine made only one of two free throws at the other end, and when Minnesota inbounded with 12.8 seconds on the clock, Michigan State (19-9, 10-5) decided not to foul intentionally with a three-point lead.

''I didn't want to foul with that much time left, the way that we weren't shooting free throws very good down the stretch,'' Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. ''It's a choice I made and a choice I'll live with. If guys would do their damn job and do what they're supposed to do, we wouldn't have been in that position anyway.''

The Gophers remained patient, and Morris ended up surprisingly open in front of the Minnesota bench. He made his 3-pointer while drawing a foul on Gavin Schilling, who arrived late to contest the shot. But a chance at a dramatic four-point play slipped away when Morris missed the free throw.

''I was still excited about the 3,'' Morris said. ''I was overwhelmed and missed the free throw.''

Valentine led all scorers with 27 points, and Michigan State's Travis Trice had 21 points and 10 assists.

Morris scored 20 for Minnesota.

Michigan State never led in an overtime that was largely a free throw contest. Minnesota attempted 20 free throws in the extra session - as many as the Gophers had tried in all of regulation. They were 14 of 20 in overtime and finished the game 29 of 40.

Michigan State was 5 of 9 from the line in overtime and finished 19 of 29.

The Spartans were down six when Valentine connected from 3-point range to make it 91-88 with 39 seconds left, but DeAndre Mathieu made two free throws for Minnesota to answer.

The Gophers are among the nation's top teams in steals and turnover margin, and Michigan State gave the ball away 12 times to Minnesota's eight.

Michigan State was up 58-51 when Branden Dawson turned the ball over near the Minnesota bench, leading to a layup by Morris that started a 12-3 run by the Gophers.

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TIP-INS

Minnesota: The Gophers snapped a three-game losing streak.

Michigan State: Denzel Valentine went 7 of 12 from 3-point range, but the rest of the team was 6 of 20.

KING'S BIG PLAYS

Joey King twice drew fouls in clever fashion while shooting from beyond the arc - and both times, he made all three shots at the line.

''It's something I've been working on in practice recently. For a while, I wasn't confident enough to do it in a game,'' he said. ''I hadn't pump faked and jumped into people in my whole career.''

TRICE IMPRESSES

Travis Trice nearly helped Michigan State pull through. His contested 3-pointer from the left corner tied it at 67, and he made another 3 from around the same spot to put the Spartans up 70-69 with 1:47 left in regulation.

But he finished 6 of 13 on free throws, including 2 of 6 in overtime.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Hosts No. 5 Wisconsin next Thursday night.

Michigan State: Plays at Wisconsin on Sunday.

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