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Full Game Recap:
- First Half: Wednesday’s game started in classic Big Ten fashion. After starting the game with a combined 2 of 16 from the field, Wisconsin led 7-2 heading into the first media timeout. Once, head coach Ben Johnson brought star freshmen Braeden Carrington and Pharrel Payne off the bench, the Gophers started rolling, knocking down 4 of 5 FGs leading to a 12-9 lead with 11:10 to go in the first half. Ta’Lon Cooper began to settle and so did Minnesota, having one of its best starts to a game this season. A great first 16 minutes ended with a poor close, as Wisconsin led 32-26 heading into the locker room
- Second Half: There was a lot to like in the second half for the Gophers. After Wisconsin quickly jumped out to a run and 15-point lead, Minnesota responded. An 11-0 run midway through the half was one of the most impressive stretches of basketball this season for Ben Johnson’s squad. Wisconsin held a lead for the entire half, but the Gophers weren’t going away. They had the ball down three with a few seconds to go, but a late turnover sealed the for Wisconsin 63-60.
That was the Gophers’ best game of the season. They fought for 40 minutes, which is something I do not think you’ve been able to say all season. Out-rebounding Wisconsin 40-24 will always be impressive, but a 20-9 turnover difference was ultimately the difference. Minnesota played with aggression and passion that I personally have not seen this season, something that is very encouraging to see in a Big Ten road game.
Minnesota’s big three of Ta’Lon Cooper, Dawson Garcia and Jamison Battle combined for 43 of its 60 points. It was the first time this season it seemed like all three were able to add some form of production offensively, but their 15 combined turnovers were too much to overcome.
I believe there was a lot to like about this game. Pharrel Payne was able to flash his uber-high ceiling with 8 points and 3 rebounds, along with the second-highest defensive rating on the team. Braeden Carrington and Joshua Ola-Joseph also were able to show why so many people are high on their long-term potential. Ultimately, this is what this team was supposed to look like. If Jamison Battle is able to continue to find his rhythm and they’re able to cut down on turnovers, this is a basketball team that can compete in the Big Ten.
What is Next?:
Minnesota will now look ahead to an early morning 11 am tip-off Saturday at the Barn against Nebraska. This is about as close as this team can get to a must-win Big Ten game. This will likely be one of their best chances to find a win in conference play this season. If they play like they did tonight I think they have a chance to do just that.