Gophers shown up by Nebraska, lose 77-60

by Adam Fink

Minnesota’s men’s basketball team’s collapse – and subsequent 77-60 loss – Monday night against Nebraska started just as it appeared the Gophers were going to take over the game.

When the Cornhuskers’ two premier post players each picked up their fourth fouls with 15 minutes remaining, it seemed as though Minnesota forward Kris Humphries would have room to work down low and the perimeter shooters would have space and time to shoot from long-range.

“That was the game plan,” Humphries said.

But instead Humphries, harassed in the first half by Nebraska forwards Andrew Drevo and John Turek, became a non-factor. And it was Nebraska’s long-range game that came to life.

The Cornhuskers (9-1) made six straight three pointers and found themselves on the better end of a 26-6 run midway with under eight minutes remaining in the game.

The run turned a 43-41 Gophers lead into a laugher and sent many of the season-high 12,532 in attendance at Williams Arena to a quick exit.

While the Gophers offensive woes were highlighted with each miss, the game was lost on the defensive end. Minnesota shot 33.3 percent for the game but only made 5 of 24 attempts from beyond the arc.

“That stretch defined the game,” said point guard Adam Boone, referring to the Nebraska run.

Added Moe Hargrow, “They made plays and we didn’t.”

It was the Gophers inability to close on set shooters Brian Conklin and Nate Johnson that did the team in. It was also a lack of communication.

Conklin was 5-for-6 from three point land and scored 17 points after entering the game averaging only 4.7 points per game.

Johnson tied a career-high with 25 points as the Cornhuskers scored on eight straight possessions during their game-turning run.

None of Minnesota’s starters shot better than 50 percent. Humphries led the Gophers with 21 points and 10 rebounds but only scored three points in the final 15 minutes.

The team also rarely ran down the shot clock, instead settling for early shots en route to losing its first home game of the season.

“He’s a very good offensive player,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said of Humphries. “A lot of our offensive runs through him. He got frustrated.”

Monday’s game marked the first of two difficult contests.

The Gophers (6-3) play at Texas Tech on New Years Day. Forgetting the outcome against Nebraska will be crucial to making a statement to each other.

Monson told his players this week would go along way to determining how the rest of the season will be.

With one loss in the books, the Gophers hope to end the two-game stretch with a win.

Bauer reaches 1,000

Senior Michael Bauer became the 32nd player in Minnesota history to reach 1,000 career points.

Bauer finished the game with four points to add to his 999 total entering Monday?s game.

The four-digit mark came on a free throw with 18:33 remaining the in the game.

Women’s team wins

The seventh-ranked Gophers women’s basketball team defeated Virginia 73-53 Monday night to claim the Virginia Cavalier Classic title.

Lindsay Whalen scored 31 points and was named tournament MVP.

The Gophers improved to 10-0 and face Michigan on Jan. 1 at Williams Arena in their Big Ten opener.