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Continued: Reusse: Special game for Lumpkin and the Wildcats at the Barn

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 1, 2014 - 8:21 PM

Lumpkin had the Smith assignment at the start. Smith’s first couple of attempts were rushed by a fraction, both missed, and Minnesota’s mad bomber was in a funk.

Later, Gophers coach Richard Pitino would trace Smith’s terrible day on threes — 0-for-7 to start, 1-for-9 total — on shooting without his usual confidence. If so, Lumpkin’s early defense put Smith in that frame of mind.

“I love Sanjay; he’s a freshman and he’s the heart and soul of our team, as far as toughness and energy,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “He’s always in the action. He’s our best defender. He’s always on the boards. This was a huge day for him [emotionally], coming back home.”

It was a huge day for Eugene, too, watching his grandson win a game in Williams Arena.

“Hard on my knees, banging into the seat in front of me, but it was worth it,” the 6-4 grandfather said. “Sanjay’s such a great young man. An A student all through school, you know. He’s always made his family proud.”

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

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