I'll give the Gophers this much, they at least fought during their 77-74 overtime loss at Northwestern, and that is at least a small improvement over the loss at home earlier in the week to Michigan.
But this game was equally as disappointing because it was a game that the Gophers had in control for the first 35 minutes and then let Northwestern storm back from a 13 point second half deficit. The Wildcats came all the way back and forced overtime by hitting outside shots, taking advantage of mismatches to get to the rim and by forcing (or taking advantage of) turnovers out of their 1-3-1 zone.
Those turnovers down the stretch were the most disheartening. Devoe Joseph demonstrated again that he's not where he needs to be to start as a point guard in the Big Ten. His passing is non-chalant. It was the lack of crisp ball movement that killed the Gophers late in the second half. As a team the Gophers turned the ball over 15 times.
The way the game ended was a complete turnaround from how it started when the Gophers were moving the ball with purpose and beating the Northwestern zone.
Offensively, the Gophers were led by Lawrence Westbrook's 22 points. Devoe Joseph added 16 and Paul Carter added 13.
Carter specifically played well, despite his own bad pass at an inopportune time. But Carter's 13 points came in just 18 minutes. By comparison, Joseph and Westbrook played 44 and 41 minutes respectively. Unlike Damian Johnson, Carter adds a real offensive option and he absolutely must play more minutes especially when he's playing well.
Carter, however, was the only bench player to have a significant role in the game. Colton Iverson logged 9 minutes. Rodney Williams was in the game for 8 minutes and Justin Cobbs played just two minutes. That meant that Minnesota's once touted depth didn't have a chance to see the court.
The loss ends any hopes of Minnesota making the NCAA Tournament barring a Big Ten Tournament title. Northwestern, which played well in the last 5 minutes and overtime, also won't be dancing come March. But they still have some nice players. John Shurna was very good and finished with a team-high 22 points. Drew Crawford, just a freshman, is going to be very good in this conference. He finished with 14 points. And the Wildcats won this game down the stretch at the foul line, where for the game they were 16-19.
That's about all I've got on this one. It was tough as a fan watching the Gophers build a solid lead only to squander yet another Big Ten game away.