We know this obviously didn’t happen....but just roll with it.
A weird day in the world and weird day on the court resulted in at least one more chance for the Gophers as they took down Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament 75-73 in a wild game.
Daniel Oturu was held to just two points in the first half on 1-10 shooting but turned into a madman in the second, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds including the go-ahead bucket with 13 seconds left.
Marcus Carr was steady, pouring in 18 points and racking up 7 assists without committing a turnover and forcing a key Joe Weiskamp turnover that eventually led to the game-winning Oturu bucket.
The game nearly got out of hand early with Oturu ice cold from the field and Luka Garza red hot. The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 13-point lead by the midway point of the first half, and with Gabe Kalscheur in early foul trouble Weiskamp ran rampant in the backcourt. A 40-30 halftime deficit seemed insurmountable.
But hardworking halftime adjustments by Richard Pitino and the ball simply finding the net led to a swift turnaround for the Gophers, who used a key 17-3 run early in the second half to take the lead. Jarvis Omersa turned in 12 very efficient minutes in the second half, frustrating Garza and helping to hold him to just four second half points.
With just 45 seconds left and the game tied, the Gophers had a final chance to retake the lead in the game. Oturu found himself one on one with Garza, a symbolic matchup of the conference’s premier big men, and used a slick spin move and elegant touch to get the ball into the hoop over Garza’s outstretched hands. A botched pass down low on the ensuing possession left CJ Fredrick with no choice to but to toss up a desperate corner heave that never had a chance and left the Gophers smiling.
It’s all or nothing for Minnesota, who needs a Big Ten Tournament championship to get into the NCAA Tournament and whose hopes hang by a thread each day. Illinois awaits the Gophers in the quarterfinals, a team they had a fair amount of trouble with when they last met in late January.
Call me crazy, but the Gophers looked inspired in the second half. We’ll see what happens on their third consecutive day of games.