If the Gophers don't make the NCAA tournament, I'm sure they will look back at the last 28.6 seconds of regulation with Wisconsin on Thursday night as one of the most costly spans of time in the season. With the game tied at 51-51 they failed to score and the result was a 68-61 loss in overtime.

Before Thursday's game, the Gophers had a favorable remaining schedule, with five games at home and two on the road -- at Northwestern and at Wisconsin.

The Badgers hit seven of 11 three-point shots in the first half while the Gophers countered with only 1-for-5. It was a different story in the second half as the Gophers got back in the game, holding the Badgers to just 2-of-12 shooting on three-pointers.

Flip Saunders, who is watching a lot of basketball after losing his job with the Wizards, credited the Gophers defense for getting them back in the game.

"I thought that Minnesota really defended to get themselves back into the game and had a chance," said Saunders who watched the game at Williams Arena. "But sometimes when you have to exert that much energy and you have that momentum, when you don't get up over the hump right away, it gets into you and it's tough to keep on going."

Saunders sang the praises of Jordan Taylor, the former Benilde-St. Margaret's guard who scored 27 points for the winners and played a great floor game.

"He reminds me of, I mean, he's good, there are a lot of guys in our league that are kind of like him. Ty Lawson in Denver, they're kind of the same build, but they're strong and quick and can push it and can shoot it," Saunders said. "I like the way he plays."

Dunbar hired Daly

Former Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who was fired last month and now has that same job with the New York Jets, was instrumental in the football coaching career of Brendan Daly, who has replaced Dunbar here.

Daly worked with Dunbar on the Oklahoma State staff from 2001-2003, where they had the opportunity to coach Vikings star defensive tackle Kevin Williams for two years.

Dunbar recommended hiring Daly to former Vikings coach Brad Childress, and Daly served as an assistant defensive line coach under Dunbar from 2006-2008 before being hired by the St. Louis Rams in 2009 as their defensive line coach. Daly served there for three years.

Daly said he uses a lot of the techniques he learned working with Dunbar all the way back at Oklahoma State.

"We ended up having a really good working relationship and a lot of the technique stuff, drill-work stuff, that I'm still using today, we were doing way back then," Daly said. "A lot of it evolved from a guy named Pete Jenkins, who coached Dunbar at LSU back in the mid-'80s."

Daly said it was tough replacing Dunbar, who did so much for him.

"To be quite honest with you it's a little bit bittersweet for me because he and I are good friends, very good friends," Daly said. "That's exactly right. I'm here as the replacement, that's exactly what happened."

Daly will renew relationships with a number of the Vikings defensive linemen who were here when he worked under Dunbar.

"Yeah, a lot of them are the same, you know I think there are five guys that are currently on the roster that were here," Daly said. "Jared Allen and Kevin Williams were here. Brian Robison we drafted when I was here. Letroy Guion we drafted when I was here, Fred Evans was here.

"A lot of the same, although there's new and young, exciting guys with Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard and D'Aundre Reed and Remi Ayodele not here when I was here the first time."


• New Orleans has the Timberwolves' first-round draft choice this year after acquiring it from the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal. However, the Wolves could have Utah's No. 1 pick from the Al Jefferson trade. That selection is protected, so the Wolves would get it if the Jazz draft lower than No. 14. The pick is top-12 protected in 2013.

• Two members of the Wolves board of directors and owners of stock died within the past year -- Pinky McNamara and Burton McGlynn -- but the families of the two have kept their shares in the Wolves.

• Three former Timberwolves coaches are now head coaches in the NBA -- Kevin McHale at Houston, Randy Wittman at Washington and Dwane Casey at Toronto.

• Eight members of the University of Wisconsin football team have been invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis. The only two local players invited were Michael Floyd, the outstanding Notre Dame wide receiver from Cretin-Derham Hall, and tackle Tom Compton, who played at South Dakota and is from Rosemount.

• The Gophers are looking at Marceice Jackson, a 6-3, 240-pound linebacker from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, who will visit the campus in the near future.

• Tony Levine, the former Gophers receiver and new football coach at the University of Houston, will headline the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association Clinic on March 29-31 at the St. Louis Park DoubleTree Hotel. Also on the program will be former Vikings defensive line coach John Levra and longtime NFL center and offensive line coach Carl Mauck.

• Brothers and former Gophers Jeff and Nick Tow- Arnett have signed with the Milwaukee Mustangs of the Arena Football League. Nick originally signed with the Cowboys and Jeff with Tampa Bay after their college careers ended.

• Brendan Beal, the Gophers linebacker who transferred here from Florida but wound up missing most of last year, will miss spring practice because of a knee problem but should be ready for fall camp. However, two other players who were sidelined a good share of last season -- cornerback Troy Stoudermire and wide receiver Marcus Jones -- will be available when spring practice opens March 22.

• Former Gopher Thomas Vanek is second on the Buffalo Sabres in scoring with 19 goals and 22 assists. Jordan Leopold is the Sabres' second-leading scoring defenseman with eight goals and nine assists. ... Former Gopher Blake Wheeler is the leading scorer for the Winnipeg Jets with 10 goals and 26 assists in 53 games and is four games away from playing in his 300th NHL game. ... Former Gopher Jordan Schroeder is the team's third-leading scorer with 14 goals and 14 assists in 47 games for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. He has six goals and six assists in his past 12 games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com