Minnesota seeks statement win vs. No. 7 Michigan
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The Minnesota men's basketball team finds itself on the bubble. A victory over visiting No. 7 Michigan on Thursday would greatly enhance the Golden Gophers' NCAA Tournament resume.
A four-game losing streak put Minnesota in a precarious spot. An 84-63 win over Indiana at Williams Arena on Saturday gave the Gophers a much-needed boost, and they remain at home for a rematch with the Wolverines.
Minnesota rallied from 13 points down in the final 9:12 and 10 down in the final 4:54 during the first meeting in Ann Arbor on Jan. 22, only to lose 59-57 on Charles Matthews' buzzer-beating jumper off an offensive rebound.
Just prior to snapping their recent skid, the Gophers (17-9 overall, 7-8 Big Ten) lost a one-point heartbreaker at Nebraska. They let out their frustrations against the fading Hoosiers, leading by as much as 30 points. They shot 48.3 percent from the field and made 54.5 percent of their 3-point attempts.
"We've had some good ones at home offensively. We have not had some good ones on the road," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "We've just got to understand where we're getting some good shots. Stick with the execution. The same offense that's producing 90-something versus Iowa, 80-something versus Illinois, 80-something versus a really defensive Indiana team. It's just being fundamentally sound. Not turning the ball over is really, really important."
Following the Michigan matchup, the Gophers play three of their last four regular-season games on the road.
Senior forward Jordan Murphy led the onslaught against Indiana with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman guard Gabe Kalscheur went 6-for-8 from 3-point range en route to 20 points.
"No one wants to lose, and it's tough when you're losing like that," Kalscheur said. "But we got this win, and we're going to turn it around."
Minnesota came out with fire after its agonizing loss to the Cornhuskers. Nebraska made two free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining after a questionable foul call against Amir Coffey.
"We're not going to change the record. We're not going to appeal anything," Pitino said. "It doesn't matter. There's only one thing you can do. It's play angry. Don't feel sorry for yourselves. We've got to create our own luck."
The Wolverines (23-3, 12-3) didn't need any luck in their last outing. A stingy defense allowed them to collect a 65-52 home win over Maryland as the Wolverines bounced back from a road loss to last-place Penn State.
"We take stuff personal. We played this game thinking we were playing Penn State again," sixth man Isaiah Livers told the Detroit News. "We took it personal and (that) loss was bad. I think everybody on the team -- down to our walk-ons and maybe even our managers -- didn't feel good after that game because we knew we could play better."
Michigan held Maryland to 36.4 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
"I had no doubt our defense would be strong," coach John Beilein said.
The Wolverines overcame a poor shooting performance in their first meeting with the Gophers. They shot 33.9 percent overall and made just 3 of 22 3-point attempts. But Michigan's defense stood tall until the late going, harassing Minnesota into 16 turnovers while committing just six of its own.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 20, 2019
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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