Live Blog: Gophers Men’s Basketball v. No. 14 Wisconsin

by Marco LaNave

The Gophers men’s basketball team faces No. 14 Wisconsin to begin a three-game homestand in the next week that will determine their fate as they enter the postseason.  With the rivalry, the Barn is the most energized it has been before any game this season.

7:46 2nd – The Badgers have made nine 3-pointers tonight, but they missed four 3-pointers on their last possession. GOPHERS 47, WISCONSIN 42.

11:56 2nd – Wisconsin has closed the lead with an 11-2 run in the last six minutes. GOPHERS 41, WISCONSIN 37.

15:55 2nd – The Gophers took the fabled 13-point second-half lead (which they’ve blown to Michigan State and Northwestern in the last month) at 39-26 a couple of minutes ago. Two steals by Hughes have led to three points for the Badgers since then. Minnesota has already been called for more fouls in the second half (five) than it committed in the entire first half (four). GOPHERS 39, WISCONSIN 29.

Halftime – Minnesota has scored its last eight points on free throws, including four after a technical foul was called on the Wisconsin bench following coach Bo Ryan’s complaint of a foul called on Badgers guard Dan Fahey. GOPHERS 35, WISCONSIN 26.

3:21 1st – Three Gophers have hit the last three baskets. Johnson, sophomore center Colton Iverson and freshman guard Justin Cobbs have scored in the last three minutes for Minnesota. GOPHERS 27, WISCONSIN 23.

6:31 1st – Hoffarber hit a jumper to extend the lead with 7:30 remaining before halftime. He now has 10 points to lead all scorers. GOPHERS 21, WISCONSIN 18.

11:39 1st – Minnesota has assembled a 14-2 run by making its last four 3-point attempts. Hoffarber has hit a pair, and Joseph has made another. Each team has made only one shot inside the 3-point line. GOPHERS 14, WISCONSIN 8.

15:52 1st – There hasn’t been a very fast pace in the opening minutes, probably a sign that the Badgers are controlling the tempo. Westbrook’s layup attempt was blocked by Nankivil on the closest possesion to a breakaway so far. Bohanon and Hughes have hit 3-pointers for Wisconsin, while Johnson hit a straight-on 3-point shot for Minnesota. WISCONSIN 6, GOPHERS 3.

Despite reportedly expressing ideas about a lineup switch, coach Tubby Smith is sticking with the same starters as in the previous six games, of which the Gophers have lost four.

One thing has changed, however.  Nearly all of the Gophers are sporting shaved heads. Junior guard Blake Hoffarber appears to have a little remaining from a buzz cut, and freshman guard Bryant Allen is still sporting his long dreadlocks, but the rest of the team is bald. Even suspended players Al Nolen and Trevor Mbakwe have shaved their heads.

Wisconsin Badgers (19-6, 9-4 Big Ten):

F Jr. Keaton Nankivil (8.8 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists per game)
F Jr. Tim Jarmusz (2.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.8 APG)
G Sr. Jason Bohanon (12.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.2 APG)
G So. Jordan Taylor (9.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.5 APG)
G Sr. Trevon Hughes (15.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG)

Minnesota Gophers (14-10, 5-7 Big Ten):

F Sr. Damian Johnson (10.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.1 APG)
C So. Ralph Sampson III (8.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.8 APG)
G Jr. Blake Hoffarber (11.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 APG)
G So. Devoe Joseph (8.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.0 APG)
G Sr. Lawrence Westbrook (13.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.0 APG)