Jared Sullinger jolted up the floor in the second half of top-ranked Ohio State's 82-69 victory over the No. 18 Gophers men's basketball team on Sunday.
The 6-9, 270-pound freshman caught a pass, pirouetted like a ballerina and dropped a baby hook in traffic despite drawing a foul.
The play didn't change the outcome of the game, but it did serve to illustrate the gulf between the teams.
Sullinger, a projected lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft, will make millions playing pro basketball. He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, as multiple scouts evaluated his performance in person at Williams Arena.
William Buford's pull-up jumpers -- he finished with 15 points -- could help him get to the next level, too. David Lighty, a 6-5 swingman who scored a game-high 19 points, might fit into the right NBA team's system.
Recruiting that kind of talent to the University of Minnesota and competing in the national "arms race" will take more time and additional resources, such as a new practice facility, Gophers coach Tubby Smith said after his team's season-high third consecutive loss.
The Buckeyes are raising funds to a build a second on-campus practice facility. They currently play and practice at the $116 million Schottenstein Center.
"All those things help. All those things tie into your commitment to the program and resources and that's a big part of it nowadays," Smith said. "It's like an arms race ... It's not just something for recruiting. [The practice facility is] needed. We really don't like going across the street in the cold to lift [weights]. We just don't like that. We'd like to be able to have our own place where we could do that."
The Buckeyes, the third-most-profitable men's basketball program ($11.4 million in 2010) in the country according to CNN, have had at least one player selected in the first round of the past four NBA drafts. The Gophers haven't had an NBA first-round pick since Kris Humphries in 2004.
Sullinger is Ohio State's second consecutive national player of the year contender -- Evan Turner won the Naismith and Wooden honors last season.
In four years, Smith's Gophers haven't featured an All-Big Ten player.
The announced sellout crowd of 14,625 witnessed the growing divide between the Buckeyes (24-0, 11-0 Big Ten) and Gophers (16-7, 5-6).
"It can be done [here]. It just takes time," Smith said.
There's no shame in losing to an undefeated and top-ranked team. But the Gophers didn't have the playmakers necessary to compete most of the afternoon.
The Buckeyes tallied 22 offensive rebounds compared to the Gophers' nine. The Gophers post trio of Ralph Sampson III, Colton Iverson and Trevor Mbakwe committed 12 of the team's 19 turnovers.
A little over a minute into the second half, the Gophers cut an eight-point halftime deficit to five. But they spent most of the rest of the game fighting a double-digit deficit.
"We were pretty much manhandled in the second half," Smith said.
Without injured point guard Al Nolen, the Gophers have fallen into a lukewarm pack of Big Ten teams, all capable of finishing the season outside the NCAA's expanded 68-team tournament field.
Upcoming games against Illinois, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan offer zero guarantees of victory. They are 1-3 since Nolen broke his right foot Jan. 22.
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said he noticed a difference between the Gophers team he saw Sunday and the one that made a run in the second half during a three-point loss at Ohio State on Jan. 9. Nolen had 11 points in that outing.
"Nolen was pretty effective against us [in Columbus]," Matta said.
Blake Hoffarber, who finished with a team-high 16 points Sunday but also recorded four turnovers, continues to struggle in his new role. Creating more uncertainty about this team's future, Hoffarber was held to 13 minutes in the second half because of a knee problem. But the injury shouldn't keep him out of future games, Smith said.
"We just gotta come to practice, practice harder, we have to get on each other, just gotta keep our heads up because this happens," said Gophers freshman Austin Hollins, who had eight points and two steals in his fourth start this season.
In Scoreboard: College basketball scores and standings. C11