Minnesota defeated Northwestern 75-66 in overtime at Williams Arena. The Gophers improve to 14-7 on the season and 5-5 in conference play. Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 20 points.
Everyone who predicted that the Gophers would be .500 in conference play in February stand up. Now all of you who are standing sit your lying butts down because no one thought that. You’d be forgiven for thinking during the game today that it would not be happening either. Minnesota shot terribly during the first half (a tune that is more over played than Call Me Maybe) highlighted by a 2-11 performance from deep. They were outrebounded 18-9 in the first half. And yet with an Elijah Hawkins buzzer beater, Minnesota went into the half tied at 27.
The second half was a more reasonable shooting performance for Minnesota. Cam Christie in particular had a strong second half. The freshman finished with 15 points on 6-12 shooting, and 10 of those came in the second half. Minnesota led with twenty seconds to go after a clutch Christie three pointer and then two foul shots by Elijah Hawkins. In a stunning and confused series, the Gophers proceeded to:
- Foul Boo Buie with 20 seconds remaining up three via a reach-in 50 feet away from the basket. It is unclear whether this was intentional, but for everyone’s sake I am going to assume that it was not. Buie made one of two from the line.
- Ran one of the worst inbounds plays I have seen in a hot minute. Ben Johnson was not able to get a time out from the refs, and Mike Mitchell was stranded in a corner trap. Mitchell attempted to pass to Garcia, but the pass was low and Garcia did not get a hand on it before the ball clattered out of bounds.
- On the ensuing possession, Buie drove past Hawkins who fouled him on the attempt. Fortunately, the ball decided that it was uninterested in dropping, meaning that Buie had two foul shots to tie instead of an and-1 attempt for the game. He made both, giving us all FREE BASKETBALL.
The Gophers dominated overtime. In particular, Dawson Garcia had 8 of the Gophers 14 points in the overtime period. A Pharrel Payne dunk and two Mike Mitchell free throws in the final minute sealed it for good.
Pharrel Payne has a bad back that kept him from practicing all week.
At a certain point in the second half, Payne ascended to another plane of athleticism all together, becoming PHARREL PAYNE (cue Dragonball Z Super Saiyan music). Look at these highlights.
Gawk at the sheer ridiculousness of the first block where he went up twice within a second to contest the first player and then sent the next shot into the sun. Weep with wonder at a dunk that was slammed so hard PAYNE fell over. Marvel at how the floor at Williams Arena did not split open after PAYNE came down after the monster OT dunk. The sophomore was 7-8 from the field for 14 points, nine boards, four blocks and shot Look a Squirrel from the foul line.
Cam Christie continued his All Big Ten Freshman campaign. After a strong game against Penn State, he had another great performance on offense and was a solid defender today.
#BigTenRefs call of the century happened today when they gave a three point shot on a Cam Christie attempt that was at least a foot inside the line. It was the most bizarre missed called I can remember seeing in a college basketball game. Somewhere Kirk Ferentz is screaming that the call was not a fair catch.
Rebounding is a real concern. Until the overtime period, the Gophers were out-rebounded by the Wildcats, and gave up 10 offensive rebounds that led to 8 Northwestern points. Minnesota got away with it today because the Wildcats committed a lot of turnovers—17 on the night—but the failure to clean the glass is going to lead to heartbreak against teams in the future.
I cannot believe that I am saying this, but if the Gophers win their next game against Michigan State on Tuesday we will legitimately put up the magic number counter.