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.
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. • email@example.com
|Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll||3||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda||5|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Peralta||4||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: D. McGowan||5|
|Detroit - LP: B. Farmer||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: Y. Pino||12|
|Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen||7||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: B. Workman||3|
|Houston - C. McHugh||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - D. Salazar|
|St. Louis - S. Miller||6:05 PM|
|Philadelphia - D. Buchanan|
|Atlanta - E. Santana||6:10 PM|
|Cincinnati - M. Leake|
|Pittsburgh - E. Volquez||6:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - W. Peralta|
|San Diego - A. Cashner||7:10 PM|
|Arizona - V. Nuno|
|Miami - T. Koehler||7:10 PM|
|Colorado - J. Lyles|
|Detroit - J. Verlander||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - T. May|
|Kansas City - J. Guthrie||7:25 PM|
|Texas - N. Tepesch|
|LA Angels - C. Wilson||8:05 PM|
|Oakland - J. Lester|
|NY Mets - J. deGrom||8:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke|
|Tampa Bay||7||1st Qtr 2:20|
|New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|St. Louis||7:00 PM|
|San Diego||8/24/14 3:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||8/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Atlanta||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|Detroit||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Kansas City||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|NY Jets||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Carolina||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|New England||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Washington||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Baltimore||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Chicago||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Denver||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Seattle||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Wake Forest||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Boise State||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Tulane||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Temple||8/28/14 8:15 PM|
|Rutgers||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Weber State||8/28/14 9:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State|
|BYU||8/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|(8) Michigan State|
|Bowling Green||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|UNLV||8/29/14 9:30 PM|
|UCF||8/30/14 7:30 AM|
|Troy||8/30/14 11:00 AM|
|(7) UCLA||8/30/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Mich||8/30/14 11:00 AM|
|(5) Ohio State||8/30/14 11:00 AM|
|Appalachian St||8/30/14 11:00 AM|
|Ga Southern||8/30/14 11:30 AM|
|Boston College||8/30/14 2:00 PM|
|West Virginia||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|Rice||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|(10) South Dakota St||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|California||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|Marshall||8/30/14 2:30 PM|
|UC Davis||8/30/14 3:00 PM|
|Arkansas||8/30/14 3:00 PM|
|(16) Clemson||8/30/14 4:30 PM|
|Liberty||8/30/14 5:00 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Ohio U||8/30/14 5:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||8/30/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||8/30/14 6:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin||8/30/14 6:10 PM|
|(20) Kansas State|
|Fresno State||8/30/14 6:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||8/30/14 6:30 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||8/30/14 7:00 PM|
|North Texas||8/30/14 7:00 PM|
|Oklahoma State||8/30/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|(14) Wisconsin||8/30/14 8:00 PM|
|South Dakota||8/30/14 9:30 PM|
|(25) Washington||8/30/14 9:30 PM|
|Red Bull New York|
|Chivas USA||6:30 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City|
|Vancouver FC||9:30 PM|
|Calgary||8/24/14 2:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Ottawa||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 2:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|