Gophers crack Big Ten egg

by Tim Klobuchar

The Gophers’ long-overdue first win in the Big Ten this year, 76-53 over Ohio State on Saturday, allowed for a few releases of emotion that had been dammed up during their frustrating season.
The most important was the relief of finally kicking aside that ugly round number in the win column, which looked even uglier next to the six in the loss column. It was the Gophers’ longest losing streak since 1991.
“It just feels good. We got the monkey off our back, so to speak,” senior guard Eric Harris said of Minnesota’s pummeling of the Buckeyes. “Now we don’t have to worry about setting all types of school records for losing. Now we’re all right.”
Secondly, coach Clem Haskins permitted himself to vent his anger at the officiating, particularly his perceived rough treatment of leading scorer Sam Jacobson. Haskins was upset enough to issue an ultimatum that, if carried out, would make ESPN’s recent coverage of unsightly Big Ten games seem downright fetching by comparison.
“I’m going to have to undress on the sidelines. I’m going to do that Tuesday night in front of a national TV audience,” Haskins said, referring to ESPN’s telecast of the Gophers game against Wisconsin, “if Sam gets fouled on three jump shots like he did tonight and there’s no call. That’s ridiculous.
“When you get your fanny beat and you say that, you’re complaining about the officials. That’s why I haven’t said anything until now.”
Although the win provoked Haskins to speak out, it’s unlikely to facilitate the lifting of the media gag order — another product of the Gophers’ futility this year — Haskins recently placed on forward Miles Tarver and every Minnesota player besides Jacobson and Harris.
Tarver irked Haskins with his comments after Minnesota’s sixth straight loss, 65-57 to Michigan on Tuesday. Tarver wondered aloud what was sinking faster, the team or the Titanic, and jokingly suggested he’ll campaign for mayor of Ann Arbor because of the popularity he gained there with his poor play against the Wolverines.
Haskins was not amused. Losses might have been the root of Tarver’s flip remarks, but one win wasn’t going to change Haskins’ mind, nor the Gophers’ season.
The situation Jacobson spoke of was still better than that of Ohio State.
Coincidentally, Buckeyes coach Jim O’Brien forbade all of his players from talking to the media after the game. Not coincidentally, the Buckeyes had just lost their ninth straight game — tying a school record — and their 12th straight Big Ten game, setting a school record.
“They owned us,” O’Brien said. “We had trouble getting the ball past half court.”
Especially early. The pressure of guards Harris and Kevin Clark on the inexperienced, mediocre backcourt of Ohio State forced turnovers that resulted in a game-opening 12-0 run.
Clark got the start in place of Tarver, partly because of Tarver’s performance, partly because of Tarver’s remarks, but mostly because of his own ability to both score and defend.
The junior scored 15 points and helped hold Buckeyes freshman star guard Michael Redd to 11 points, well below his 21.7 average.
“It was a combination of (Clark) bumping and holding and being real physical, and Michael not having enough experience to still try to get himself open,” O’Brien said.
Early in the season, when Jacobson struggled on offense, the Gophers were in as much trouble as the Buckeyes were with their Redd-cold shooting.
Jacobson played well, but didn’t have a great shooting night (7-for-17 from the floor). But all four other starters also scored in double figures, giving Minnesota the balance-boost it often received last year.
“The key word was patience,” Haskins said. “We had five guys in double figures, and that’s my philosophy as a coach. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’m not a one-man coach. I’m a team coach. We had five players in double figures, and that’s why we won.”
Notes: Guard Russ Archambault had the flu and did not play.
The Gophers’ streak of six straight Big Ten losses was nowhere near the worst streak of Haskins’ career. Minnesota dropped 21 consecutive conference games during Haskins’ first two seasons.

Ohio State 27 26 — 53
Gophers 42 34 — 76

Ohio St. (7-12, 0-6)
Singleton 7-11 1-2 15, Sanderson 1-6 2-2 4, Johnson 2-4 4-5 8, Davis 2-8 2-2 6, Redd 5-14 1-2 11, Coleman 2-6 0-0 6, Steele 1-6 1-2 3, Herron 0-3 0-0 0, Lumpkin 0-2 0-0 0, Hanna 0-1 0-0 0, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-61 11-15 53.
Minnesota (8-10, 1-6)
Jacobson 7-17 5-6 21, Lewis 7-11 3-4 17, Sanden 4-5 2-2 10, Clark 4-8 5-7 15. Harris 3-8 3-4 11, Tarver 0-1 2-2 2, Nathaniel 0-3 0-2 0, Schoenrock 0-1 0-0 0, Broxsie 0-1 0-0 0, Ja. Stanford 0-0 0-0 0, Je. Stanford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 20-27 76.
3-Point goals — Ohio St. 2-18 (Coleman 2-5, Sanderson 0-5, Davis 0-4, Redd 0-2, Steele 0-2), Minnesota 6-16 (Harris 2-3, Clark 2-5, Jacobson 2-7, Schoenrock 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Ohio St. 35 (Redd 6), Minnesota 42 (Sanden 9). Assists — Ohio St. 10 (Davis 4), Minnesota 20 (Jacobson 6). Total fouls — Ohio St. 17, Minnesota 15. A — 14,402.