Bryn Forbes scored 20 points, making three 3-pointers in the second half to help top-ranked Michigan State stave off Minnesota for a 69-61 victory on Saturday in response to a loss at Iowa earlier in the week.
Matt Costello contributed 17 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs, for the Spartans (14-1, 1-1) four days after they fell 78-63 to the Hawkeyes in their Big Ten opener to make this No. 1 billing in The Associated Press' poll short-lived.
Freshman Deyonta Davis added 10 points and four rebounds, capably filling a void in the post created by star Denzel Valentine's knee injury.
Nate Mason led the Gophers (6-8, 0-2) with 16 points, Jordan Murphy had 14 points and nine rebounds and Kevin Dorsey scored 11 points.
Forbes made only one of five shots from the field for three points at Iowa, but the senior guard led the bounce back with several clutch swishes from the wing. One of them beat the shot clock early in the second half to put the Spartans up 35-32. Another one, right after a 3-pointer by Mason pulled Minnesota within 58-56 and prompted a timeout by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, stretched the lead to 61-56.
The Gophers were still within three points with 2:14 left, but Dorsey made one of two free throws to get them within 63-61. Davis deftly followed with a short hook shot on the other end to push the lead to four and then blocked a shot by Murphy.
With Valentine, a preseason All-America, was out for the third straight game and is likely to miss at least another week. Costello, Davis and Gavin Schilling were more than enough down low against undersized Minnesota. But that didn't mean this was easy.
Given the fact the Gophers have held a halftime lead in five of 15 games and been up by more than two points at the intermission just three times, plus the caliber and mindset of this opponent, this was by far their best game of the season.
Looking a lot more organized and inspired than the team that lost at home last month to mid-major foes South Dakota, South Dakota State and Milwaukee, Minnesota confidently matched Michigan State basket for basket for the majority of the game.
Bakary Konate hit a soft hook shot to pull the Gophers within 25-24 and stole the ball from Eron Harris on the other end, bringing the crowd to a crescendo, but a turnaround by Carlos Morris that would have put Minnesota in front bounced off the rim.
On the final possession before the break, Dorsey swished a 3-pointer from the corner off an inbounds play with 0.7 seconds left to cut Michigan State's lead to 32-29 after the Gophers had lost the ball out of bounds.
The Spartans have won 20 of the last 24 games between these teams. This was the first game at Minnesota in the series since Dec. 31, 2012, the only win by the Gophers at home over Michigan State in the last 10 years.
Michigan State: Davis made all four of his field goals. He's a 66.3-percent shooter, the best on the team among players with 20 or more attempts.
Minnesota: Murphy missed all four of his free throws. The freshman is the worst free-throw shooter on the team at 56.8 percent.
Michigan State hosts Illinois on Thursday.
Minnesota plays at Penn State on Tuesday.