Another missed opportunity for the Gophers to get a big resume boosting win. Not that we have missed on every opportunity, we did beat Illinois and won at Indiana, but the list of missed opportunities is growing.
They could have and should have won at Illinois with a couple late free throws. They never should have lost to Iowa (twice). Had a chance to win at Michigan down one with 1:04 left. And had the opportunity to win last night's game over Wisconsin on your home floor but came up short. In every one of those games the Gophers had the ball with under a minute remaining and an opportunity to tie or win the game. We haven't missed on every opportunity but it certainly feels like it.
Last night the Badgers rode a first half of hot shooting that they eventually expanded to 13 in the second. But then a combination of increased Gopher defensive pressure, the Badgers finally missing their end of shot-clock prayers and Andre Hollins coming to life offensively carried the Gophers on a 15-2 run over the final 9 minutes of the half. That is the entire game in a nutshell.
Wisconsin's shooting from behind the arc through the first 30 minutes was an incredible 53% before finishing regulation 0-5 during the Gopher's run. 53% is really good but draining deep threes, with pressure as the shot-clock is expiring was just cruel. Eventually the law of averages played itself out but it is hard to battle back from down 13 against a very good defensive team.
Overall I thought the Gopher defensive pressure was pretty good. They occasionally employed a half-court trap to get the ball out of the hands of Jordan Taylor and to try to speed up the pace of the game and make Wisconsin a little uncomfortable. They kept their focus during long Badger possessions and were it not for a couple loose ball's that would trickle to a Badger shooter who would make a deep three as the shot-clock expired, they made some nice stops. Considering how much I have harped on the Gopher defense for most of the year, I thought last night they did a decent job of trying to keep Wisconsin off balance.
And finally we get to Andre Hollins who is finally starting to show signs of a bright basketball future. The freshman scored 11 points in the 15-2 run on his way to 20 for the night. He hit a couple big threes and he was the one responsible for guarding Jordan Taylor in the second half. Dre was willing to get physical with Taylor and never backed down from the senior point guard on either end of the floor. The true freshman has averaged over 11 points per game in his last four games and is starting to make me excited about his future as a Golden Gopher.
Tough game to lose and there are no consolation points for taking a ranked team to overtime only to lose. This team is missing that go-to scorer who can nail the dagger when you need a game finishing basket. It only gets harder from here as we host Ohio State on Tuesday and face a total of four ranked teams in the next five games. More opportunities are there to earn another big win, but the question is will the Gophers capitalize on these opportunities or will there be more close losses in our future?