Nate Mason, like many Minnesota players, remembers well the missed chances vs. Ohio State the last time around. 

There was the second free throw that didn't fall for him at the end of regulation, missing the opportunity to put an end to the game rather than send it to overtime. Then there was DeAndre Mathieu's turnover on the last play of the extra session, that handed the Gophers the 74-72 loss on Jan. 6. 

Today in their hotel, the players and coaches will be watching those moments play out again, on the film, as they prepare for tonight's Big Ten tournament second round matchup vs. the 6-seed Buckeyes.

"We feel like we let them go," Mason said after the 11-seed Gophers' 80-68 win over 14-seed Rutgers on Wednesday night. 

Added Mathieu, looking back on those last second foils: "I'm definitely ready for some revenge. There have been a lot of those plays that we've had, so to get that monkey off my back and get it off our team's back would be good."

Realistically, though, that game -- like so many the Gophers have played this year -- wasn't won or lost in those final seconds, rather in the hole they carved; the ups and downs of the inconsistent play that's haunted them all year.

After allowing eventual Big Ten Freshman of the Year D'Angelo Russell to drop 25 points in the first half, Minnesota found itself mired in a 12-point deficit in the second half. The Gophers -- after mostly putting Mathieu and Mason on Russell in the second after Andre Hollins guarded him through most of the first -- shut the dynamic guard down, with him managing just two points the rest of the way. 

Tonight, Minnesota will need to have a defensive effort more like that one for the full game if they want to advance again.

"Just making his life miserable," Mason said. "Just try to contain him the best I can, try to do whatever I can against him."


Mathieu was still sporting a black eye on Wednesday after getting mauled in the Penn State game on Sunday. 

The senior said he still isn't sure exactly what happened, only that there was some contact somewhere on a fastbreak layup by Mason in the second half, sending him to the ground. 

His face was massively swollen after the game and his cheek hadn't quite deflated on Wednesday.

"I got up and Mo [Walker] was looking at me like 'Yo, what's wrong with your face?'" Mathieu said. "I felt it swelling up. It's my first ever black eye, so it's something new. 
"I like it though, don't you think it makes me look a little tougher?"


Louisville coach Rick Pitino flew in very briefly for last night's game ahead of his own game in the ACC tournament in just a few hours.

He spoke to the team before the game, specifically addressing the seniors.

"Just knowing that he's actually paying attention to us and we're not even on his team," Mathieu said. "That's big, he left his own team to watch us play. He said he's not here for his son, he's here for us seniors because we've been through a lot this year and just to give us an extra boost of confidence. So to have a legend come and talk to you, just out of the blue, just to make your day a little better, that's something a lot of teams don't get."

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