Rand: Muhammad, Buggs are surprise basketball heroes

  • Updated: February 26, 2014 - 8:53 PM

Shabazz Muhammad of the Timberwolves and Charles Buggs of the Gophers were surprise heroes Tuesday night.

Photo: Associated Press photos,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When was the last time you spent an entire night watching Minnesota basketball and be completely and utterly rewarded not just with two victories but also two performances that came out of nowhere?

We can’t remember a night like Tuesday, when the Gophers won a track meet against Iowa and the Wolves came back to win at Phoenix. Both victories were influenced by two players — redshirt freshman Charles Buggs for the Gophers and rookie Shabazz Muhammad for the Wolves — who have typically only seen mop-up duty this season.

None of this guarantees anything about what Buggs, the Gophers, Muhammad or the Wolves will do for the rest of the year. But here is a look at their performances in the context of must-win games for both teams:

• Buggs: He had played exactly 21 minutes this season — two in Big Ten play — before Tuesday. But Buggs was the spark the Gophers needed against the Hawkeyes. He had 11 of his career-high 13 points in the first half. His only bucket in the second half came at a critical time. A 5-0 run had helped surging Iowa get within 68-66, but his steal and layup ignited a 12-1 run that proved essential.

The must-win moved the Gophers’ conference record to 7-9. An upset at Michigan and a home victory over Penn State to close the season would seal an NCAA bid. A competitive loss to Michigan, a victory over Penn State and at least one win in the Big Ten tourney would at least give Minnesota a shot at making the Big Dance. Anything short of that would be leaving a lot up to the selection committee. But that Iowa victory was one the Gophers had to have.

• Muhammad: He’s played just 140 minutes for the Wolves this season, but 57 in the past three games. Tuesday was easily his most complete game as an NBA player — 8-for-13 from the floor, six rebounds, a pair of steals and 20 must-have points (10 in the fourth quarter) in a 110-101 comeback victory over Phoenix.

The Wolves’ playoff hopes are dangling by a thread, but they would have been severed without a victory over the Suns.

Now they’re 5½ games back of Phoenix with 25 games to play. They’re also four games behind No. 9 Memphis. But the Wolves play 14 of their final 25 games at home; 14 of the final 25 are on the road for Phoenix, while 16 of the final 26 are on road for the Grizzlies.

If the Wolves can take advantage of some weak foes coming up, there still might be a chance to make a run thanks to Tuesday’s victory.

Michael Rand

  • related content

  • In a preseason game between the Minnesota Gophers and the Southwest Baptist Bearcats, Charles Buggs(24)grabbed a defensive rebound in the first half.] rtsong-taatarii@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question