Read my full story on the 77-74 3OT loss at Purdue here. (The final will be posted as it is edited.)
Now the road gets tougher.
The Gophers didn't play poorly on Wednesday -- at least not in most regards.
Andre Hollins was back, and encouraging. Several players had really strong games, among them Mo Walker (who is only getting better and better at playing with his back to the basket, in front of our eyes), Austin Hollins (I think the slump is over) and Joey King (that was the aggressiveness Minnesota needed).
But Minnesota didn't do the small things it needed to pull out the win. One small thing in particular, actually, which grew to be a massive thing:
Purdue got as many as it wanted, it seemed like. The Boilermakers collected 23 in all, and turned them into 23 second-chance points.
It was enough to get the edge on the Gophers, and even overcome a shockingly bad 9-for-23 performance from the line (I mean, I've seen bad. But wow).
Perhaps on another night, it would simply look like a hard-fought loss. It's tough to pull out a victory in any Big Ten road game. And the Gophers showed great grit to get it to overtime to begin with. But this was one Minnesota really needed. Now losing three straight, the Gophers head back home, to play Indiana, but the road doesn't get any easier from there. This three-game stretch was supposed to be the one that bolstered the Gophers win and set them up for an opportunity to impress down the stretch. Now, they're clinging to a 4-6 record and will find challenges in picking up the five more games they'll probably need to achieve an NCAA tournament berth in the final eight games.
The Gophers had their chances at the end. Malik Smith had a good look off an out-of-bounds play at the end of double overtime, and Austin Hollins got a chance of his own at the end of triple overtime. But if the Gophers had owned the glass a little bit more they wouldn't have been in that situation.