Byline: Lindsey Willhite Daily Herald Sports Writer
Mateen Cleaves' reign as Big Ten Player of the Year ended when the postseason began.
No one in an official capacity deemed that so - just someone in the best place to make Cleaves look bad and himself look great.
Let the trumpets blare for the first king of the Big Ten postseason - Minnesota senior point guard Eric Harris.
Harris poured in a career-high 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting in Minnesota's 76-73 quarterfinal shocker over top-seeded Michigan State.
But that's only half of what the Bronx native did Friday afternoon. He suffocated an impatient Cleaves on the other end. He forced the sophomore to shoot 2 of 18 from the field and induced enough bricks to pave the Spartans' way back to East Lansing.
In the final two minutes, when any contribution by Cleaves could have cut into Minnesota's one-possession lead, Cleaves missed three 3-pointers, a pair of free throws and fouled Harris to hand the Gophers a key point with 31.3 seconds left.
"Sometimes you're going to have games you're never going to forget in your life, the best games you ever have," said a gracious Cleaves. "Then you're going to have your frustrating games. I really couldn't get myself going today.
"I've just got to go back, watch the film and learn from the mistakes I made. I think I learned a valuable lesson today."
Harris traveled the same high road as Cleaves.
"Our first two meetings I was sort of disappointed with myself," said Harris, who managed just 10 points on 2-of-16 shooting in the two Gophers losses. …