Double technical sparks Gophers in second half of win

C.J. Spang

Many people have wondered whether Minnesota’s men’s basketball team would be able to stay together during this season of bitter disappointment.

More than once, the team seemingly has given up at the end of games and players have visibly displayed their frustration with one another.

But during Saturday’s 69-55 win over No. 12 Michigan State, one heated moment showed that the Gophers feel one emotion toward each other ” love.

“We’re a family,” senior forward J’son Stamper said. “We always talk about being a family and anybody comes at your family, you’re going for them.”

After a Spartans miss early in the second half, senior forward Zach Puchtel ended up underneath Michigan State freshman forward Marquise Gray while fighting for the rebound.

As Puchtel tried to stand up, Gray made no effort to move, even though his feet were near Puchtel’s head.

Puchtel quickly became frustrated and made serious efforts to stand up, while Gray took his time moving.

Senior guard Vincent Grier took offense with Gray’s actions and gave Gray a hard shove behind, knocking Gray off of Puchtel.

“I love Vince,” Puchtel said. “I’m so glad he had my back.

Both Grier and Gray were given technical fouls as the two teams huddled around, looking to defend themselves as necessary.

“Technical, schmechnical in my estimation,” Puchtel said. “I’m just glad he was there for me.”

Referee Ed Hightower quickly brought both teams together, giving them a stern verbal warning in an attempt to cool the situation.

While there were no further incidents, it was a moment that undoubtedly changed the game, as Minnesota had newfound energy and intensity the rest of the game.

“It was just letting them know we’re here to play,” Grier said. “We put our jerseys and shorts on just like y’all do and we not here to back down. Y’all in our house tonight and y’all in for a fight and that’s what it was.”

After the technical, Grier scored all 11 of his second-half points and Puchtel dropped in 11 of his career-high 13 points.

Four of Grier’s points came on huge dunks that sent Williams Arena into a frenzy.

After Grier hit a pair of free throws to pull the Gophers within two with 9:54 remaining, the senior guard stole a pass from Spartans forward Shannon Brown and took the ball to the hoop for a spectacular slam.

Then, with the game winding down and well in hand, senior guard Adam Boone came down with a rebound and threw a full court pass to Grier who threw down the two-handed slam, solidifying Minnesota’s victory.

With the win, the Gophers improve to 10-4 at home this season, a mark the team feels should be even better.

“This is our house and we haven’t done a great job protecting the Barn this year,” Stamper said. “But it’s time to change that.”