The first three games of the season for the Gophers basketball team was basically the Marcus Carr Show. The high-scoring junior point guard averaged nearly 30 points per game — and even hit a game-winning three-pointer.
When Carr wasn’t leading the way, he discovered he had a talented backcourt sidekick with Both Gach.
Problem for the Gophers was that Boston College saw exactly the same thing game planning for Tuesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They knew shutting down Carr and Gach could be the key to the upset.
After the Gophers’ dynamic guards were held to just six points on 2-for-9 shooting combined in the first half, Carr and Gach got into rhythm late to help lead the Gophers to an 85-80 overtime victory against the Eagles.
Carr and Gach, who entered the game averaging 42 points combined, scored 32 of their 38 points in the second half and overtime for the Gophers (5-0) to remain undefeated on the season.
Playing their first game this season against a major conference opponent, Pitino didn’t now how his newcomer-laden team would handle tougher competition. They struggled mightily through the first 26 minutes falling behind 16 points in the second half.
Jay Heath’s fourth three-pointer and his team’s ninth of the game extended Boston College’s lead to 52-37. The Eagles, who beat Minnesota at home by 12 points in 2018, led then-No. 3 Villanova by nine in the second half in the season opener before falling 76-67.
Heath and Wynston Tabbs combined for 40 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Eagles (1-4).
At the end of regulation, Carr and Gach combined for 13 of their team’s 15 points when Gach’s two free throws with 2:18 left tied the game 68-68.
Center Liam Robbins, who finished with 14 points, gave the Gophers a two-point lead that nearly held until Boston College’s Makai Ashton-Langford scored over Robbins to tie it 70-70 with 5.4 seconds to play.
Pitino called a timeout before the Gophers could inbound the ball to Carr when the opposing defense hadn’t set up. Regulation ended with his three-point heave that fell short.
Minnesota’s deficit would’ve been a lot worse early Tuesday if not for some support off the bench. Jamal Mashburn Jr., Isaiah Ihnen and Tre’ Williams combined to score 24 points, including 14 points in the second half and overtime. Mashburn, a high-profile freshman guard, scored 10 points.
Boston College bounced back from 20-point loss to Florida last week to hit six three-pointers in the first half against the Gophers. The Eagles entered the game shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc, but they looked even more comfortable at the Barn.
Carr opened the game 1-for-8 from the field before his three-pointer just under the 13-minute mark in the second half sparked a 16-0 Gophers run. Pitino looked to Mashburn and Williams for some offensive punch off the bench. They delivered with seven of Minnesota’s nine points during a stretch, including Williams’ layup for a 53-52 lead at the 9:13 mark.
The Gophers led again with five minutes later when Carr scored on back-to-back possessions, which included his two free throws for a 64-62 advantage. His best scoring game this season was 35 points in the season opener against Wisconsin Green-Bay, which tied his career high.
The Toronto native also had 21 of his 26 points in the second half in the 67-64 nail-biting victory against Loyola Marymount that ended with his last-second three-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. Carr was carried by his teammates for most of the game against Boston College, but he and Gach fueled the late comeback Tuesday night.