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Minnesota defeats Maryland, 89-75

The Magic Number is 0!

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota defeated Maryland 89-75 on the road in College Park. With the win, Minnesota is now 9-6 in Big Ten play and 21-7 on the season. Trailing by a point to open the second half, Minnesota poured in 55 points in the second half to win in a convincing fashion. The Gophers now have a six game winning streak in Big Ten play, which is the first time that has happened since the seasons we can’t talk about. This team has the first winning road record in B1G since the year we can’t talk about. They have five wins on the road, and now have a road win against a top 25 team in late February. I do not remember the last time they had a meaningful road win against a top 25 team in late February, and I am not going to look it up. Why is that?

Because the Magic Number is 0.

Assuming that nothing strange happens, Minnesota will be an NCAA Tournament team the year after winning eight games total. That does not mean they should let up, but it does mean that every additional win from here on out is for seeding purpose.

Minnesota had five players in double figures because that’s the way this team has worked this season. When one player has a bad game, another player steps up. Only superlatives in this recap.

Dupree McBrayer unbroke himself at the best time. The sophomore led the team with 18 points on 6-8 shooting. He also only attempted one questionable shot, and that shot went in. When McBrayer is playing well, the Gophers become so hard to guard. He’s an ideal sixth man for this team, and probably would win the award if he came off the bench all season.

Early on in the game, the Gophers struggled to find consistent offense. Fortunately, Akeem Springs can get his own shot at anytime and was back on. Springs had 16 points on 6-9 shooting. He opened the second half with two threes that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Nate Mason continues to be an All Big Ten first team selection. He was not efficient in scoring the ball, but still managed to put together a solid game. Mason finished with 17 points along with five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Amir Coffey scored 16 points, most of them in the second half. He looked to drive to the basket and did so several times with his right hand. In the off season he will develop a right hand and then be nigh unguardable. It will be wonderful.

Jordan Murphy only had 15 points and 8 rebounds because every once in awhile he has to have an off game. Murphy in the second half had a sequence where he received a pass and then made two post moves to shake two defenders before slamming the ball home. That Jordan Murphy is the Murphy we’ve wanted to see all year.

Reggie Lynch had four fouls, but he managed to not foul out, and while he was on the court Maryland’s offense was bottled up. We say it every game, but it is so important that Lynch stays on the court because he makes opposing offenses worse.

Michael Hurt played for a hot second and forced a turnover.

Finally, kudos to Pitino for an excellent coaching job in the second half. He called sets when necessary to kick start the offense, found ways to get all of his players involved, and had excellent defensive calls all night. The Gophers rebounded after the debacle earlier in the season against Maryland to bottle up their three point shooters all night. That’s on the players for executing, but also on the coaching staff for drawing up the game plan.