Reusse: Gophers show some heart as they sludge it out with Badgers

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2013 - 2:02 PM

The Big Ten schedule was turning into the usual grind and this Gophers basketball team had taken on a small-hearted appearance. This was far from a first in the disappointing Tubby Smith Era.

On Thursday night, the Gophers were host to the narcolepsy-inducing Wisconsin Badgers, the ugliest No. 20-ranked team in the history of college basketball rankings.

The Gophers came out ready to adopt the Badgers' stodgy approach. It was 10-4 for the Badgers at the first TV timeout, and it was 10-4 for the Badgers at the second TV timeout.

Wisconsin started by hitting a pair of threes, and then clanked away at 1-for-11 for the remainder of the half. You almost had to shed a tear for that poor rim on the east basket in the Barn.

This Badger blacksmithing allowed the Gophers to go on an 8-0 waddle at the end of the half and cut the lead to 24-22. And from then on, everyone in the announced crowd of 14,625 knew it would remain a night of mud wrestling until a narrow winner was declared.

That turned out to be the Gophers, 58-53 in overtime. They got there by showing much more fight than had been on display during a disgusting 2-6 slide that put them closer to the bad teams in the Big Ten than the good ones.

Wisconsin was leading 47-43 when Ben Brust made a jumper with 6:11 left in regulation. This was it: exactly the type of game the Badgers always win and adds to Bo Ryan's legend as a coaching genius.

Right?

One problem. The Badgers scored on two free throws, missed five shots and turned it over four times in that final 6:11. And then they missed seven shots to open overtime.

Twelve straight misses. Four turnovers. And no field goals from the time Brust scored at 6:11 until Jared Berggren's putback with 10 seconds remaining in OT. That's four free throws and no other points in 11 minutes.

If Wisconsin is No. 20, I don't want to be forced to watch No. 21.

And still, the Gophers looked to be in a bad way when Traevon Jackson got away with a world-class flop, and Wisconsin had the lead at 49-43 with 5:08 left in regulation.

Jackson is the son of former Ohio State and NBA standout Jim Jackson. He resembles his father facially and across the shoulders. As a player, it's a different story. He went 3-for-14 from the field, and his attempts at a Jordan Taylor impersonation down the stretch were hapless.

Taylor, the point guard from Benilde-St. Margaret's, had a full career of succeeding in the clutch at Wisconsin.

The Gophers needed more than Wisconsin's ineptitude to put an end to a month of drudgery -- starting with the Michigan loss in the Barn on Jan. 17.

They needed Joe Coleman, a mediocre free throw shooter, to make two free throws for a 49-49 tie with 17 seconds left. They needed Austin Hollins and helpers to force a horrendous final shot by Jackson at the end of regulation.

In overtime, the Gophers needed Andre Hollins -- the sophomore guard with the ability to be his team's dagger thrower -- to hit a three at 3:36 for the first points by either team in overtime.

That loosened up the Gophers and the home crowd. Later, Trevor Mbakwe went above traffic to secure a defensive rebound ... showing those enormously strong hands that were remembered fondly from his junior season of 2010-11.

A moment later, Mbakwe was thrown to the floor by Jackson in a tangle on the Gophers' offensive end. Trevor could have stayed to protest a no-call, but he got up and hustled to play defense.

This was mentioned to Mbakwe and the sixth-year senior said: "Things are moving too fast to complain. You can't give up a basket at the other end because you're worried about a call.

"We won this game with great defense. We hadn't been pressing teams with our defense, but we did tonight.''

Mbakwe came down with another rebound and then was fouled. He's a subpar free throw shooter, but he made two there to make it 54-49, and the Gophers held on.

They were still alive. Their hearts were back to pumping blood.

Patrick Reusse can be heard oon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 88 4th Qtr 2:25
LA Lakers 92
Oklahoma City 101 4th Qtr 5:44
Portland 96
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close