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Men's Hoops Upset by Minnesota, 76-73

March 6, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) - Eric Harris scored a career-high 29 points and helped limit Mateen Cleaves to 2-for-18 shooting as Minnesota eliminated No. 12 Michigan State from the Big Ten tournament, 76-73 Friday.

Cleaves, the conference player of the year, finished with 13 points and committed six turnovers. He went 2-for-11 from 3-point range and missed three crucial free throws down the stretch. Cleaves only had four turnovers in the previous four games.

While Michigan State (20-7), the regular-season co-champion, won't play again until the NCAA tournament, Minnesota (15-14) will meet No. 17 Michigan in Saturday's semifinals.

The Golden Gophers, who won the conference title last season and advanced to the Final Four, have given themselves a chance for an NIT berth - unless they can pull off two more upsets and earn the automatic NCAA bid that will go to the winner of this inaugural Big Ten tournament.

The Spartans trailed 74-71 when Cleaves badly missed a 3-pointer, two free throws and another trey. Nevertheless, they made it a one-point game when Antonio Smith scored on a rebound with 41.7 seconds left.

After Harris made a free throw, Miles Tarver stole Michigan State's inbound pass and Minnesota's Kevin Nathaniel made one of two free throws.

The Spartans had two chances to tie but Cleaves and Jason Klein each missed a 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds. When Klein's bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded, Minnesota players celebrated at mid-court as if they had just won the championship.

Michigan State, which lost its regular-season finale to Purdue, has its first two-game losing streak of the year.

Harris scored 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting in the first half, and his 3-pointer gave Minnesota a 35-26 lead with 3:56 to play. But the Gophers managed only two free throws by Harris the rest of the half and Charlie Bell had four points to help Michigan State pull to 37-34.

Cleaves was 0-for-12 before finally making a 3-pointer with 10:12 to play to tie it at 57-all. Minnesota promptly went on a 10-0 run, capped by Harris' 3-pointer in Cleaves' face.

The Spartans rallied again, with Cleaves and Klein each hitting a 3-pointer and Cleaves making a nice pass to set up Andre Hutson's layup cut the deficit to 72-71 with 2:23 left.



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