Looking at the replays, and the screen shots, I believe that Traevon Jackson’s winning shot did get off before the shot clock expired. It was close, no doubt, very close.

But even if he hadn’t – it’s hard to call that the game when the Gophers had a bevy of chances that they systematically disregarded.

For example, the play before The Shot – when Minnesota had a chance to retake the lead, but instead Andre Hollins was called for a charge, giving Wisconsin back the momentum.

Oh, remember that the Gophers also shot 34.8 percent from the field, that they got just 29 rebounds, that they fouled seven times in the first 3:32 of the second half, that they got just six points total from three of the five starters?

Yes, there was more to this fourth consecutive loss than just the final three plays, although all of which were pretty ugly from the Gophers’ perspective: first, the charge call for Hollins, then the Jackson shot at the tail end of the shot clock, and a wobbler, no less, then Rodney Williams being picked to go to the line, and bricking his second attempt, sealing the Wisconsin win.

The game was close, but had the Badgers shot much better than the Gophers, it wouldn’t have been. And after this many shoddy performances in a row, it’s time to accept that it’s more than just iffy ref calls that have done this once-promising team in.

That Williams has been so absent during this stretch is a real problem for the Gophers. Austin Hollins’ struggles were extremely meaningful as well. It’s tough to win with just two productive members of the starting lineup, as the Gophers had today with Andre Hollins (20 points) and Trevor Mbakwe (eight points, 10 rebounds).

The team keeps saying that it’s just a matter of cleaning up the little things, but the fact is, all the little things – the poor shooting, the turnovers, the fouls, the mental mistakes, the defensive lapses, the offensive sluggishness -- have piled up to one very big thing: a legitimate slump.

Other notes from the 45-44 loss to Wisconsin:

  • Had the Jackson shot been late after all, the officials wouldn’t have been able to review it (because shot-clock violations aren’t reviewable according to the rule book).
  • Smith on the losing streak: “We’ve had three chances now to break it. And it’s been the same. We had a good shot today, we had a good shot against Northwestern and we just haven’t stepped up to the plate. It always takes a whole – coaches, everybody else, decision-making, substitutions, maybe just not pushing the right buttons to do what they have to do.”
  • Smith said he’d like to see Rodney Williams be more active within the offense. Williams has had the tendency to stand around at times in the half-court offense, rather than trying to get involved. “We try to run plays for him, we throw the ball to him,” Smith said. “You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to want it pretty bad. It’s your fourth year, you’re a senior, you’ve got to go demand the ball. And you’ve got to produce.”
  • Smith played a larger lineup for most of the game, rotating Andre Ingram and Elliott Eliason in the post with Trevor Mbakwe while Williams played the 3-spot, but still Minnesota managed just 12 shots in the paint.
  • Once again, the Gophers’ bench struggled, getting just six points from Maverick Ahanmisi on two early 3-pointers and four from Eliason. Andre Ingram had five rebounds, but didn’t score in 20 minutes.

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Gophers fall to Wisconsin in nail-biter, 45-44

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