MADISON, WIS. – There hasn’t been much to celebrate for Minnesota and Wisconsin men’s basketball this season. Both programs went from the upper echelon in the Big Ten last season to the bottom this year.
But a Border Battle rivalry win still means something, no matter the records.
The Gophers got close to their first victory at the Kohl Center since 2009, but the Badgers forced overtime before pulling away with a 73-63 victory Monday night in front of an announced 17,287.
Brevin Pritzl scored 20 points — hitting two three-pointers in OT — as Wisconsin handed the Gophers their ninth loss in a row and 12th in 13 games. Richard Pitino still hasn’t beaten the Badgers since his first season coaching at the Gophers in 2013-14.
The Gophers (14-15, 3-13 Big Ten) thought a no-call at the end of regulation seemed to go in the home team’s favor. Nate Mason, driving in the final seconds and the score tied 59-59, tripped over the foot of Brad Davison, but officials swallowed their whistles, considering it incidental contact.
“I definitely think he got tripped,” said Gophers junior Jordan Murphy, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds. “He should’ve gone to the free-throw line, but at end of the game they’re not going to give us the calls.”
Asked of the play, Pitino said Mason got fouled, and he was injured as well on the trip.
“[Mason] was hobbling; he was exhausted,” Pitino said. “We didn’t have anything left in the tank, but it is what it is. … We had our chances to win the game. We just did not execute when we needed to.”
The Gophers led 58-51 with 5 minutes, 58 seconds left in regulation on Murphy’s three, and they still led 59-56 with 13 seconds to go when Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson went to the line for a 1-and-1. He made the first free throw but missed the second, but the Gophers missed a box-out, the Badgers secured the rebound and called timeout, drawing up a play for junior standout Ethan Happ.
Pitino told his players to foul Happ, a 55 percent free-throw shooter, but instead he was able to score the tying basket with 5 seconds left.
“We made two big mistakes at the end,” Pitino said.
This looked to be the season when the Gophers finally won at Wisconsin (13-16, 6-10), which is in danger of seeing its streak of 19 consecutive NCAA tournaments end and has lost at home six times this season.
But the Badgers still beat the Gophers for the eighth consecutive meeting, thanks to Pritzl’s six three-pointers and 19 points from Maple Grove’s Davison, including 14 in the first half. Happ, double-teamed almost the entire game, finished with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting.
Mason scored 11 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He injured his lower right leg on the trip, played with a limp in the extra period and wasn’t a factor for the Gophers, who were outscored 14-4 in OT.
The Gophers announced Saturday that guard Amir Coffey would have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. But Dupree McBrayer returned Monday, scoring eight points after missing two games because of a lower left leg injury.
Michael Hurt also picked up the slack with 15 points and eight rebounds. Hurt said the Gophers can’t let this loss carry over to their final home game against Iowa.
“It should motivate us even more to go out on Wednesday,” Hurt said. “We need to not only play for each other but play for the seniors.”