Read my full game story from the 95-89 victory over Iowa here.
Gophers fans, go ahead.
No, Minnesota's win on Tuesday night against Iowa does not change everything in the sense that the Gophers still obviously have plenty of things they need to work on and improve and well, they probably won't shooting 60 percent from the field most nights.
But in another sense, it did. It changed everything. Because it lifted the team when it badly needed a lift. It infused a sense of hope that was previously drowning.
And it gave the Gophers another chance. A chance at the NCAA tournament, and a chance to end the season -- which coach Richard Pitino pointed out is already statistically probably an improvement from what everyone expected before the season -- on a positive note.
*Um, the offense. Whoa, where has that been. Just when The Gophers' offense had been placed on life support (the beeps of the heart beat were getting slower and slower), BAM, all of the sudden they're pulling out the tubes and leaping out of the hospital bed and immediately running a marathon. The Gophers scored 95 points in a Big Ten game for the first time since 1996 (when they managed 105). Austin Hollins was great. DeAndre Mathieu was great. Andre Hollins was pretty good. Charles Buggs was great, and no, I didn't think I'd be typing that sentence for many many months. In the first half and for much of the second, the Gophers couldn't miss. It was uncanny.
*Buggs. No, that makes sense. He'd played just two-plus minutes in all of the Big Ten games combined, and then he came in for 19 and had 13 points and three rebounds and shot 83.3 percent from the field. Yeah, totally predictable. I saw that coming. That's all.
(Afterward, I asked Pitino if Buggs was just his secret weapon and he was game-planning to pull him out from the shadows with three games to go. He said yes. "I was just waiting, waiting," he joked.)
(Don't worry, more to come on Buggs soon.)
*Austin. Q: How do you break out of a slump? A: Start attacking from every spot on the court. Drive it in. Score at the rim. Get fouled. Score from the line. Hit threes. When you get the ball, launch it. Believe it will go in. Then celebrate. Get excited. Repeat.
*DeAndre. The Gophers are 7-3 when Mathieu scores 10 points or more. They are 0-6 when he doesn't. And even on a night when Minnesota was hitting everything in sight, the dynamic floor general was the best player on the court. He made their offense go, kept it fluid and was as impressive as ever in finishing at the hoop.
*The defense. OK. Iowa scored 89 points. But when you're talking about the fourth most efficient offensive team in America and a Gophers defense that has been less-than-pretty, holding the Hawkeyes to 48.4 percent from the field is probably noteworthy.
*Turnovers. It was still a problem for the Gophers, who didn't hit a field goal after the 8:23 mark. They survived with free throws, but there was a stretch that got pretty sloppy, with Minnesota coughing it up three times in just over a minute and a half at one point. They finished with 14. That's too many.
*Fouling. The Gophers collected 25, sending the Hawkeyes to the line 29 times. It looked like it might halt the momentum in the first -- with both Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason having to sit for big stretches with a pair each. Ultimately it didn't, but it's still a terrible and persistent habit for this team.