Sunday, January 17, 2010

Entertaining Affair Goes The Other Way For Gopher Hoops

Despite Devoe Joseph's Herculean efforts in regulation's final minute and the first two minutes of overtime, the Gopher basketball team allowed Indiana to escape Assembly Hall with an 81-78 victory on Sunday afternoon. Even though the Gophers looked positively atrocious in the first half, they had plenty of chances to win, but let an undermanned Indiana team win.

Joseph scored 19 points on the day - 17 in the second half and overtime, including two huge field goals in regulation's final minute. The sophomore also scored the team's first six points of the overtime session, where the Gophers quickly took a five point lead before going ice cold. The Hoosiers scored OT's final eight points and had their second Big Ten victory in the bag.

Things started very slowly for Minny in this one. They managed just one point in the game's first four minutes and were in single-digits nine minutes in. The Hoosiers led by as many as 15 in the game and the Gophers clawed their way back into contention. Shooting 58% in the second half, Minnesota rode Joseph's hot shooting and got back into the game. The Gophers shut Indiana down in regulation's final minutes, holding Indiana without a field goal for the final 6:37, while Minnesota closed with field goals on their last four possessions to force OT.

Despite Joseph's hot early shooting, Indiana would not quit and eventually stopped Joseph cold on Minnesota's final two possessions to seal the victory.

The Gophers were simply out-played on the glass 43-31 by the Hoosiers, but forced 14 Indiana turnovers while limiting their turnovers to just 11. The Gophers shot nearly 50% from the floor after recovering from their horrendous start.

Ralph Sampson III added 17 points in this game, including 11-15 from the free throw line. Paul Carter scored 9 points but grabbed 10 rebounds as well off the bench.

The two-game road trip came to a disappointing end in Bloomington after the Gophers had lost earlier in the week at Michigan State. They have the balance of the week off until Michigan State comes to Williams Arena for a rematch. The 5-0 Spartans sit atop the Big Ten standings, and it's a must-have for the 3-3 Gophers.

If Minnesota wants to have any shot at contending for the Big Ten title, Saturday's game is a must-win. The schedule gets no easier, with one more home game against Northwestern and a trip to Ohio State looming after the home game against the highly-ranked Spartans.

Note: How about that broadcast on the Big Ten Network? Gus Johnson and Greg Kelser were outstanding. These guys are two of the most exciting in the business and combine solid analysis with genuine enthusiasm. Part of the "new school" of broadcasters, Johnson is one of the few whose excitement does not come across as contrived. He's not a yeller and a screamer for the sake of being and does not offer kitschy phrases to cheapen things. He (and Kelser) simply loves basketball.

Although Johnson's labeling of the game as "an instant classic" may be somewhat hyperbolic, the duo's broadcast captured the sheer intensity and excitement of the game, and made it fun to watch - despite the result. Kudos. 

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't go that far on the commentary. The announcers did claim Matt Hoffbarber and Damian Jones were on the floor a couple times. Pretty inexcuseable if your a Big 10 analyst.