Three quick observations:
Season feels over. There is still a game left in the regular season, and then the Big Ten tournament, but the momentary surge of last week -- following back-to-back wins, albeit one over Rutgers -- feels long gone. The locker room is quiet and nearly empty, the lone senior is overcome with emotion and after a trio of suspensions this week, it's hard to grasp what the team could even find for motivation right now, especially with a finale at lowly Rutgers on tap. Still, the loss on Wednesday could have been much worse for the Gophers, who shot 33 percent from the field and went 3-for-17 from three-point range. A lot of that was on Wisconsin, which got a lead early and was able to sleepwalk through most of the evening, the only mini threat coming when its 21-point lead was reduced to 11. From tip off to final buzzer, though, it was hard to feel that this one was played only for the score in the official record.
Sharp is getting his moment. It's easy to look at this team and wonder how the players could continue to give good effort. That is, except for walk-on Stephon Sharp, who has unexpectedly been handed his big shot as the season wraps up. And the X native is certainly making the most of it, finishing with 35 points in two games while starting at point guard, a position he hasn't played since elementary school.
King deserves better. I'm guessing Joey King has had this night circled on his calendar for a long time. Border rival. Home game. Senior night. Senior night is always a big deal for last-year players, but for King it might have meant something a little more. As a Minnesota native, he's worn maroon and gold with pride, appreciating what he once thought he'd never have. He's gutted out every possession since I've covered him. He's taken responsibility for his shortcomings in postgame pressers. He's cared, more than anyone, so obviously, about everything from his jump shot to his interview skills. Unfortunately for King, this year has failed him -- in record and in the off-court drama that took away from his well-deserved moment. Tonight, his eyes welled up as he tried to shove away the obvious disappointment and personal pain and answer all our questions. This reporter would have liked to see a few more smiles. He deserves that.