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Hollins lost control of his dribble on the other end, and Appling made the first two of his clinching free throws. Out of a timeout, the Gophers had the ball with the chance to tie or take the lead back, but Hollins airballed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining. He said afterward he might have rushed the shot.
"We've got to have guys at the end of the game we can go to and get stuff done, and we just can't seem to find that person," Smith said.
The Gophers, facing a clear shortfall in both athleticism and size underneath with star Trevor Mbakwe out for the season with a knee injury, played with confidence around the basket that they needed on the perimeter at the end of the game. Deep reserve Andre Ingram gave them some big rebounds and drew a charge on Green in the second half. Ralph Sampson III had his soft hook shot in sync. Green, the conference's leading rebounder, had only two at halftime.
Hollins hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Gophers out of the gate after halftime. For the second one, Welch led a fast break and whipped a two-handed pass across the lane to the right wing. Hollins faked a defender in the air, stepped back and swished the wide-open shot for a 36-32 lead.
Michigan State went more than 5 minutes without scoring until Appling's pull-up jumper. He turned a steal on the other end into a breakaway dunk, but hanging on the rim too long got him with a technical foul to the delight of the Minnesota students. They chanted, "You can't do that!"
The Gophers led 48-39, their biggest margin of the game, after consecutive baskets inside by Rodney Williams and were still up 54-47 after three free throws by Andre Hollins, who tempted Appling to foul him on a frantic beat-the-shot-clock attempt from behind the arc.
But Wood's quick hands and quicker feet on those fast breaks got the Spartans right back within striking distance, setting up the dramatic finish. The Gophers had seven turnovers in the final 7 minutes.
"Boy, we sure did play undisciplined and sloppy," Izzo said, adding: "I feel very fortunate to win it, and I'm proud that we found a way to win a game that we didn't deserve to."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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