On the road in the Big Ten, where there are limited opportunities to win, road teams must take advantage of opportunities within games to escape with a victory. Despite playing their best 30 minutes of basketball in West Lafayette in a decade, in the end, the Gophers let a rare road victory slip away.
There is an old adage in basketball that when two teams play the same way, the more talented team always wins. North Dakota tried to run with the Gophers on Monday night, and they couldn’t keep up. The Gophers forced turnovers on 34% of the unnamed team’s possessions, shot 64% on two pointers, 50% of three pointers, had only 12 turnovers themselves, and won 92-56. It was as close to a complete performance as we’ve seen so far this season, which is encouraging since the team didn’t seem distracted by the news of Josh Martin’s departure.
The Golden Gophers got off a great start at Ohio State on Saturday, but much like the second half of the Big Ten season, the second half of the game steadily spun out of control, as the Gophers lost 64-46. A loss wasn’t particularly surprising, and neither was the 18 point margin, but the way the loss occurred has to be particularly frustrating.
It only took ten seconds for Golden Gopher fans to have flashbacks to so many seasons lost to injuries, suspensions and unexpected departures. After knocking down the first shot of the game, on the first play of the game, Andre Hollins rolled his ankle, and would not return. Over the remaing 39:50, it was easy to forget that anything was missing, as Minnesota hammered the Wisconsin Badgers inside and out on the way to 81-68 victory.
Game opening and closing runs proved to much for the Richmond Spiders, as the Golden Gophers won their first road game of the young season. Minnesota jumped out to a 12-0 run behind hot shooting and a particularly frenzied full-court press. However, the Spiders quickly regained their composure, and built a four point lead with 7:25 in the second half. Richard Pitino switched to a zone defense, and the Spiders didn’t score again as the Gophers closed the game on a 19-0 run to cruise to a 15 point win.
A truly rewarding journey isn’t easy. There are wrong turns, detours, and delays. The college basketball season is 30 games long, and the Golden Gophers got lost along the way, and more than once looked like they wanted to give up and go home. Instead, they’ll be playing to go to the teams first Sweet 16 (that counts) since 1989. In basketball as in life, without negatives there can be no positives.
In what was perhaps the biggest game of the season in terms of postseason implications, the Gophers fought tooth and nail against Wisconsin to notch an overtime victory that went down to the final seconds. After a solid start to the season, the Gophers ended a free fall that saw them fall out of the national top 10 to unranked oblivion where they found themselves in a familiar position: needing a win to show the country that they’re still relevant. A loss to Wisconsin meant…
There is a reason why the Golden Gophers have never beaten a top five team on the road, and it isn’t just a lack of quality Gopher basketball teams. Top five teams, by definition are really, really good. It can take a perfect performance to beat an elite team on the road, and even a perfect performance is sometimes not enough. Instead of achieving their own perfection in the first half, the Gophers were steamrolled by the Indiana Hoosiers, who put together one of the better halves of college in the last decade.
After a thrilling come from behind victory over a traditional Big Ten powerhouse, the Golden Gophers answered several questions lingering from the non-conference season, and raised the biggest question of all. How good can this team be?
We’ll be back later with our thoughts as soon as we convince ourselves that really happened. Gophers show resolve, fail to panic under stress The Gophers coaches spliced together video of Mike Tyson’s sledgehammer punches and showed the boxing clip right before the team took the court. The players understood the symbolism. ATB: Minnesota Tops Michigan State, IU Overcomes Big Road Test, And Jim Boeheim Reaches Another Milestone… Minnesota’s win also confirmed what most already knew about the Gophers: this team is a serious threat…