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Minnesota Basketball: Wisconsin Badgers hold off Gophers 68-67

Minnesota falls short at home against the Badgers

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

THE FACTS: The Gophers fell short of mounting a comeback, falling to Wisconsin 68-67 at The Barn. The Gopher defense held Johnny Davis in check, they shot well from three as a team and played an overall solid game, but they had no answer for Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl in the paint who scored 20 and 12 points respectively, combining for 17 rebounds.

A second half of battling back and getting themselves in position to find a way to win in the end fell short.

THE BOX SCORE: HERE

KEY STAT: Last night’s key stat was very clearly rebounding, especially Wisconsin’s offensive rebounding. You may look at the box score and see that they had 10 offensive rebounds. A number that’s not terrible but also not exactly alarmingly high. Until you factor in that Wisconsin didn’t miss very many shots. So factoring in their fewer opportunities to even gather an offensive rebound, they ended up collecting 40% of their own misses. (This is Off Reb %) And that is a really bad number for the Gophers. On the flip side, The Gophers collected just 12.5% of their own misses. This, especially late in the game, was a critical reason the Gophers were unable to get the upset.

THE TURNING POINT: There was a lengthy stretch where the Gophers struggled to score and Wisconsin went on a 12-4 run, opening up an 8 point lead with 6:25 to go. But two threes by Payton Willis sandwiched around a couple Eric Curry free throws quickly erased that lead and the game was tied at 59-59. So that Badger run was NOT the turning point.

Neither was the moment when Johnny Davis fouled out and the Gophers trailed by 1 with 2:35.

The turning point was Tyler Wahl’s offensive rebound after Chucky Hepburn missed a shot with 26 seconds remaining. The Gophers, down 2, had forced a missed shot but could not secure the rebound and have the ball with a chance to tie or win.

THE QUOTE: When appropriate. Can also use for any of the categories if there are two worth stats or worthy good moves or whatever.

HOT: EJ Stephens has been playing very well his last 3 games. Averaging over 11 points and shooting 64% from three in the last 3 conference games is impressive for the team’s third leading scorer who was averaging under 10 in Big Ten play. But Stephens also played a great game defensively, contributing to frustrating Johnny Davis and holding him to just 12 points on the night.

NOT: Eric Curry remains in this category. He has been in single digits for 7 of his last 8 games with a combined 11 points scored in his last 4. Getting a Curry breakout game would go a long way toward helping this team get a couple wins in their final 3 games of the regular season.

GOOD MOVE: Whatever was specifically done to slow down Johnny Daivs, it worked. The Badger All-American (potentially) was frustrated most of the night, fouled out and scored just 12 points.

GOOD MOVE #2: This game, more than any other that I recall, saw Luke Loewe acting as point guard most of the game. Loewe has played point at times, often when Willis is on the bench or for specific sets. But he was operating at point and it seemed to help ball movement and offensive flow.

UP NEXT: The last home game of the regular season as the Gophers host Indiana on Sunday at 5:00.