No reward for U comeback

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 28, 2011 - 3:28 PM

After never leading in the first half, the Gophers extended the game twice before succumbing to Illinois.

view larger photos

  

CHAMPAIGN, ILL. - In the official records, the Gophers' 81-72 double overtime defeat will be recorded as a loss to Illinois. The team that dominated for most of the game won, and the Gophers moved to 0-1 in Big Ten Conference play.

With five minutes left on the final clock, the Illini's Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard -- who finished with 21 and 20 points, respectively -- fueled a 10-2 finishing run for the victory.

But in the come-from-behind effort against a team that has been nationally ranked this year, the Gophers won much more than they lost, showing in their scrappy, dramatic performance that, at the very least, they can hang in the Big Ten.

"I'm glad to see our guys have that fight in them, they have the toughness that we need," Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. "We just need to find ways to win like we did in games early in the season."

For 10 minutes it looked as if they might find that magic again and prove they are, in fact, the real deal. Faced with by far their most formidable opponent this season, center Ralph Sampson III -- who finished with a game-high 22 points and added nine rebounds -- and guard Julian Welch (15) came alive late and the Gophers erased a 13-point second-half deficit to scare Illinois in their own house before finally succumbing.

It was an encouraging sign for the Minnesota players -- none of whom were made available to the media after the game -- and a signal to the rest of the conference that the team is not the pushover some predicted.

"I'm proud of the way our kids played today, they fought hard, they had some chances to maybe put the game away at the end but couldn't at the end," Smith said.

The Gophers have been mostly solid in their nonconference schedule, building a 12-1 record and thriving during a six-game winning streak since their top player and leader, Trevor Mbakwe, went out because of a torn ACL. But without any major opponents on the schedule, many critics are skeptical of the Gophers, wondering just how much can be taken from the early victories.

All season, the Gophers have showed flaws. They have started slow, gotten behind early, gotten crushed by flurries of opponent three-pointers and shown their youth and rawness in mental miscues. Still, in every game except one -- when Mbakwe was hurt against Dayton -- they have found a way to get it done.

But the Illini are no mid- major team, and early on it looked as if the same old mistakes would finally bite the Gophers against Big Ten competition.

The Gophers never led in the first half, and though they hung around, they had enough mistakes to keep them three steps behind.

Their seven turnovers were converted into 11 Illinois points. Sampson went only 1-for-7 from the field. Welch's shooting was erratic. Five minutes before the break, the Illini went on a 12-6 run to go up 37-24 and held a 37-27 lead at the half.

But in the second half, down by 11 with 13 minutes to go, the Gophers staged a 17-6 run to tie the score at 54. Sampson reached down and found another level, helping the Gophers force overtime as the Illini started to look panicked and miss shots, and an Austin Hollins layup sent the game into a second overtime. But the Gophers looked like they ran out of steam in the additional extra session and the Illini, suddenly recharged, notched the victory.

"I'll give Illinois a lot of credit because we kind of came back and we had the wind at our back," Smith said. "We were playing pretty good and they responded."

  • ILLINOIS 81, GOPHERS 72 (2 OVERTIMES)

    Up next: 3 p.m. Sunday at Michigan • TV: Big Ten Network (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle 3 Bottom 9th Inning
LA Angels 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close