Read my full story on Minnesota's 74-72 overtime loss to Ohio State here.
Three quick observations after the Gophers' third consecutive loss to open the Big Ten schedule:
So close. It would have been a big one for Minnesota. The Barn -- all decked out in black -- was feeling it. The Gophers had just plowed back from down 12 in the second half and had kept the Buckeyes' freshman star in check. Minnesota needed a win. Now it will have to wait at least one more game to get it after a final on-the-fly play was derailed when Ohio State's Shannon Scott deflected DeAndre Mathieu's attempted pass to Joey King. The Gophers have showed sparks in the first three games. They built a big lead at Purdue before losing it. They were scrappy in spurts at Maryland. They forced overtime against a ranked Ohio State team. But "almost" doesn't cut it in the standings of course, and the Gophers have got to break through soon if they want to keep thinking about a better postseason than last year.
Good defense on D'Angelo Russell in the second but really bad job in the first. The freshman had his way with Minnesota in the first half. From the perimeter, where the Gophers often inexplicably left him open. At the basket. He scored a stunning 25 points before halftime. "It's a pride thing then," Mathieu said. "To let a guy score 25 in the first half and then he's running around smiling and all that. You don't allow that on your home floor." Mathieu, Andre Hollins and freshman Nate Mason did a much better job after the break, trapping and denying Russell and holding him to 0-5 after halftime. Their all-out effort did open up the rest of the court a little bit and lead to some open shots from Scott and others, but the differential was still plenty positive.
Andre Hollins is easing back? After going 0-for-6 in the first half, including a layup that went halfway down before rimming out, the senior guard broke out of his slump -- which was 3-for-25 dating back to the start of Big Ten play at the half -- with three three-pointers. The second one made him Minnesota's first player to tally at least 1,500 points and 300 assists in a career. Hollins, who still shot 3-for-13 (23 percent) on the night, showed sparks for the first time in five games of being the player the Gophers will need him to be to turn the corner. They'll need that for a full 40 minutes at Michigan this weekend to edge out Minnesota's first league win, and on the road.