Down three starters Gophers take down Rutgers 68-65

Jan. 22, 2021: Down three of their four top scorers, Minnesota came to play taking down a red hot Rutgers team 68-65.

–> Follow @Tony Liebert on Twitter

Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: With Jamison BattleEric Curry, and E.J. Stephens all ruled out due to injury or illness, the Gophers still got out to a fast 7-0 start. Thanks to seven early points from Luke Loewe and 10 early points off five Rutgers turnovers, Minnesota had a 17-10 lead heading into the under 12 media timeout. Depth began to catch up to the Gophers, as Rutgers responded with a 15-2 run and took its first lead at 20-19 around the eight-minute mark. Thanks to a handful of massive plays and a team-high 14 points from Payton Willis, the Gophers were able to regain a 28-27 lead heading into the final media timeout of the first half. A buzzer-beating three from Treyton Thompson gave Minnesota a 31-30 lead heading into the break.
  • Second Half: The Gophers continued to battle out of the locker room. Willis knocked home a career-tie-best fifth three and the Rutgers responded with a 7-0 run and led 47-44 with 12:32 to go. Big shots from Loewe and Willis kept the Gophers rolling offensively. Rutgers’ Geo Baker began to heat up, and while the game went back and forth the Scarlet Knights took a 60-57 with 7:10 to go. Willis continued putting the team on his back, hitting big shots whenever they needed it and Minnesota led 64-60 with 4:17 to go. Willis finished with a career-high 30 points and Sean Sutherlin drew a massive charge down the stretch and Minnesota came out on top 68-65.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

I think you could take away Ben Johnson‘s entire team and he would still find a way to compete in the Big Ten. Over the last two games, the Gophers have faced tremendous adversity, but this team continues to fight and show tremendous heart, but this time it came with a win. For all of those moral victory haters out there, the Gophers’ previous two games might’ve been that, but this one was a real victory. I am honestly shocked. For a team down three of its top four scorers to take down a Rutgers team that has won six of seven is truly remarkable. This was a program statement win. Johnson and the Gophers are here and they’re here to stay.
As for the Minnesota roster, Payton Willis and Luke Loewe each might’ve had their best game in a Gophers uniform. Great plays on both ends of the floor from both players were massive in pulling out the victory. Treyton Thompson played terrific in his first career start, with 10 points and six rebounds. Sean Sutherlin was able to do the dirty work and Charlie Daniels quietly has six assists and one turnover, in a game where all five starters played 37+ minutes.

What is Next?:

The Gophers will now get some much-deserved rest, as they look ahead to a home game on Jan. 27 against Ohio State. This win was massive for any postseason hopes the Gophers still had. The win itself was huge, but Loewe and Thompson playing at this level could give this team some real depth when fully healthy. Daniels might’ve also had his best game as a Gopher and Sutherlin continues to be a great defender for this team. Priority one should be getting healthy, but this win could give Minnesota some serious momentum with 12 Big Ten games remaining on the schedule.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *