In three road games this season, Richard Pitino has had no answers to why his Gophers basketball team couldn't play competitively for 40 minutes.
Pitino has heard excuses from his players about the ball and basket being different on the road, but he's not buying them. They just weren't playing with nearly enough toughness and energy.
And that's why the No. 16 Gophers suffered a similar fate Wednesday night in a lopsided 82-57 loss against No. 10 Michigan at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
"We've had some great moments this year after 13 games, but we've had three real duds," Pitino said. "Those three that we've had duds against were some really good teams. I think Michigan has as much talent as any team in the country I've seen."
The Gophers (10-3, 3-3 Big Ten) dug themselves a massive hole, outscored 39-10 to start the second half Wednesday. They had no way to slow Michigan's 7-1 freshman Hunter Dickinson, who scored a career-high 28 points.
The Wolverines (10-0, 5-0), who shot 57% from the field, looked like early Big Ten title favorites after blowing out their second straight ranked opponent following an 85-66 win over Northwestern last week.
The Gophers are still on track to be an NCAA tournament team, but three road losses by an average of 21 points — at Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan — form a disturbing trend.
Four of the U's next six games will be on the road, including Sunday's rematch against No. 5 Iowa and Hawkeyes All-American center Luka Garza, who had 32 points in Minnesota's 102-95 overtime win at the Barn.
"I wouldn't say it's an excuse that we're playing this way on the road," junior guard Gabe Kalscheur said. "We just have to come out with the intensity and physicality every game."
Minnesota's résumé so far is built with quality home wins vs. current or formerly ranked teams St. Louis, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. But the Gophers haven't proven they can even come close on the road.
In their three road losses, the Gophers trailed by as much as 36 points at Illinois, 26 at Wisconsin and 37 at Michigan.
In the first half Wednesday, Marcus Carr scored the last eight points for the Gophers with back-to-back three-pointers and two free throws to cut Michigan's 12-point lead to 32-26 at halftime.
The Gophers were within striking distance, but they were struggling in areas that had made them tough to beat at home. They led the nation with 21.6 free throws made per game but were only 2-for-2 in the half.
Minnesota 7-footer Liam Robbins scored his team's first five points, but he went scoreless the rest of the night after his 27-point effort in the 77-60 win over Ohio State last week.
In the second half, Dickinson's hook shot and layup over Robbins gave the Wolverines the jolt they needed. They outscored Minnesota 20-0 during a five-minute stretch to take a 71-34 lead with 7:56 left.
The Gophers, who had just one player in double figures with Carr's 14 points, dropped to 2-11 on the road in the Big Ten the past two seasons.
"We just have to make sure to throw the first punch," sophomore Isaiah Ihnen said. "Be the most physical team on the court. That's what we did against Ohio State. We just have to learn from that."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.