Read my full game story on tonight's 63-53 win over Ohio State here.
Well Gophers fans, this is exactly what the doctored ordered.
After two wins that came with plenty of asterisks and two losses that could only be viewed as lost opportunities, Minnesota authored a convincing win over a ranked team -- the first ranked conquest of the season -- to earn a signature win and a big dose of confidence heading into two incredibly tough two-game stretch to follow, starting with Iowa on the road on Sunday.
Elliott Eliason came up huge for the Gophers, who suddenly looked like they had all kind of offensive options. With their typical perimter attack not as impactful as it usually is -- Minnesota made just 21.4 percent of its three-point shots -- the Gophers were able to effectively work the ball inside where Eliason had his sixth double-double of the year and was an absolute difference maker. Minnesota scored 38 points in the paint and shot 51.1 percent from the field overall.
On the other end, the Gophers kept the Buckeyes off-balance with their defensive zone, holding them to 35.3 percent from the field, and then harassing them into ten turnovers in the second half after forcing just three in the first.
Perhaps the biggest success was Minnesota's ability to close, which had been a struggle through the first four -- both the losses and the wins. With 9:35 to play, the Gophers led by 7 after Mo Walker, in backing up Eliason, instigated an 8-0 run. Ohio State brought it back within three, getting a big two-pointer and steal from Aaron Craft, but the Gophers got some big shots from Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins -- maybe the start of easing out of his slump? -- and hit six free throws in the final 1:36 to take the victory.
"I can't wait to check my Twitter," DeAndre Mathieu said. "I know they're going crazy. Don't tell Coach Pitino I said that, but I can't wait to check my Twitter."