Minnesota comes up short in Wisconsin 66-60

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: With Eric Curry back in the lineup for the first time in three games, the Gophers were uncharacteristically sloppy with three early turnovers, trailing 7-6 heading into the first media timeout. Maple Grove, Minn. native Brad Davison began to heat up for the Badgers with three early threes, and Minnesota continued to struggle with turnovers, trailing 22-14 with 7:59 to go in the half. The Gophers would respond with a 9-0 run and they were back into the game, as the first half closed. Wisconsin finished the half playing its best basketball and thanks to a game-high 10 points from Tyler Wahl, Minnesota trailed 32-25 heading into the lockeroom.

  • Second Half: The Gophers came out of the break with great energy sticking around, cutting the Badgers lead to 40-36 with about 15 minutes to go. Minnesota was able to overcome some suspect calls by the referees, and tie the game at 42. As Payton Willis and Jamison Battle began to heat up, so did the Maroon & Gold. Wisconsin quickly responded with back-to-back threes and regained a 48-42 lead. The Gophers kept sticking around, trailing 53-47 heading into the under eight timeout. It wasn’t pretty from either side, as Big Ten player of the year favorite Johnny Davis was held to only 10 points, but Wisconsin still led 58-52 with just over four minutes to go. The Gophers kept fighting, but in the end, they just did not have enough fire power falling 66-60.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

It has become a pattern for Jamison Battle to get off to slow starts for the Gophers this season. When that happens it has been a struggle to produce on the offensive side of the floor, especially when Payton Willis also starts 1-6 like he did today. This Minnesota team is like a football team with a strong running game and defense, they’re not meant to play from behind. They simply do not have the horses or firepower to fight back against a team as talented as Wisconsin.
It was clear that this team is much better with Eric Curry on the floor. They had more overall flow on both ends of the floor and they looked comfortable. Johnson clearly trusted him, as Charlie Daniels and Treyton Thompson only played a combined 1o minutes today, as his backups. Willis and Battle were definitely themselves in the second half and played terrific, but sometimes it is too late, especially when you’re playing a team as talented as Wisconsin. It is always tought to beat a top-15 team on the road, and today showed that you almost have to play perfect, especially when your roster is built like this Gophers.

What is Next?:

It is difficult to grade this Gophers team’s success from game-to-game. They have been seriously competitive in every game they’ve played in, minus one (Illinois). From my point of view, out-performing expectations would be a major win for Ben Johnson in his first season as head coach. They were expected to be amongst the bottom dwellers in major college basketball, let alone the Big Ten and they are not. The wins might not yet be coming, but you can tell that this team and program in trending in the right direction.

Next on the schedule for the Gophers is a massive home game against No. 6 Purdue. It will be another great test for this team to showcase their skills on the national stage against one of the best teams in the country. It is huge that Curry will be healthy against Purdue’s talented big men. Even though they will likely have to play a perfect game to pull off the upset, I am confident in saying that Ben Johnson will have his team ready.

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