Big night from Garcia not enough, Gophers fall 81-79 to Nebraska

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: Big threes early from Taurus Samuels and Jamison Battle gave the Gophers an 8-7 lead heading into the first media timeout. The stars were out Saturday morning as Battle and Dawson Garcia combined for 14 of Minnesota’s first 21 points, resulting in a 6-point lead heading into the under-12 media timeout. Garcia’s hot start continued, but Treyton Thompson replaced him off the bench after having a DNP (coach’s decision) against Wisconsin. Minnesota held onto a 26-24 lead with 7:11 to go in the first half. After a Nebraska run, the Maroon & Gold closed the half very strong on a 13-2 run. Dawson Garcia led the way with 15 points and 6 rebounds, while as a team they only had one (1) turnover.
  • Second Half: Dawson Garcia got on the board early in half number two, but an early foul gave him three for the game and a warm seat on the bench. The Gophers were able to play without him leading 47-45 heading into the first media timeout of the half. His extended stay on the pine did not help, as a 10-0 Nebraska run, put the Cornhuskers up 52-47 with 13:31 to go. The Gophers fought back, led by true freshman Joshua Ola-Joseph. 12 second-half points evened the game at 61-61 with 5:17 to go. It was a back-and-forth battle all the down to the end, as it was tied at 67 at the end of regulation a massive three from Dartmouth transfer Taurus Samuels forced the first OT game of the season.

  • Overtime: Dawson Garcia picked up fouls No. 4 and 5 in overtime and the Gophers really weren’t able to answer with him on the bench. A few errant threes from Jamison Battle were simply too much to overcome and Nebraska came out on top 81-79.

Instant Reaction:

The Gophers have looked like a different basketball team in 2023. They are starting to play to their potential and hype they had in the preseason. It was ultimately a stretch to say that they would play in a postseason tournament, but I think most fans expected them to compete and we’ve seen it over the last two games. All of the pieces fit together, Dawson Garcia looked like an All-Conference player Jamison Battle was hitting shots, Ta’Lon Cooper was facilitating and the freshmen were showing flashes and making plays.

With that being said, the Gophers are the worst team in the Big Ten. But that does not mean they cannot at least be competitive in conference play this season. The last two games have looked a lot more like last year’s Gophers, which is a good sign. Ultimately, with Jamison Battle shooting <35% from the field this team is simply not built to be a good team. I think realistically a Gopher fan can be happy with a game like today, but still be a big frustrated, as it was a great chance to pick up a conference win.

What is Next?:

Life does not get easier for the Gophers as they will now travel to Columbus for a matchup with Ohio State, who is playing some of its best basketball of the season. It’s fair to realize today was likely Minnesota’s best chance to earn a conference win, but its level of play over the last two games is a major positive. I believe if they play like they did today or Tuesday they will fall into a win or two in the conference.

It is obviously not great that you’re hoping for a win or two in the conference, but I think with this team and program right now you have to take it game by game and season by season. And it’s fair to say they’re improving.

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