Minnesota lost to Nebraska 91-85 at Williams Arena. With the loss, Minnesota is now 14-12 on the season and 3-10 in conference play. Nate Mason led all scorers with 34.
Recapping this game is both simple and difficult. The simple version is that the Gophers could not get defensive stops when it mattered at anytime during the second half. The difficult version is that the Gophers played heavily short-handed against a plausible NCAA Tournament team and should be angry that they lost, in part because they could not get defensive stops when it mattered. As a result, I want to focus on a few positives that were gleaned from this game.
First, Jordan Murphy had is 21st double double of the season, which ties Mychael Thompson for the most in a single season. Murphy will likely get another one, and should be a shoe in for all-Conference awards. He had 22 points and 14 rebounds against Nebraska, and added four assists. Equally positive was that the Gophers explicitly ran sets to give one on one matchups in the post against Nebraska’s bigs.
Second, Nate Mason was 7-9 from behind the arc. That’s nuts. The senior continues to put together an excellent season. Unfortunately, he helms a depleted team that got even more depleted with the loss of Dupree McBrayer. Mason should be an early pick in the 3 on 3 tournament that we wrote about.
Third, Isaiah Washington is beginning to turn the corner. Yes, he still takes some obviously bad shots. He was blocked several times by Nebraska. However, he’s started to take more good shots, and has begun passing the ball. Tonight he had 8 assists, and probably should have had 10 if the rims had been kinder. Washington has put together three good games in a row, and fans should begin to get a little excited about what he could become as a college player.
One big ole negative to this game. Richard Pitino took a tech at the worst possible time. The Gophers had tied the game with a lot of momentum. After a series of shall we say odd officiating (#BigTenRefs), Pitino lost his mind and was served with a justified tech. Nebraska made both free throws and then scored on the next position. The game would never get closer. Next time, just rip off the shirt.