Tide washes away No. 16 Gophers

by Todd Zolecki

The Gophers men’s basketball team said its recent No. 16 national ranking meant its players would be wearing big targets on their backs. They said teams were now gunning to knock out Minnesota.
For most of Thursday night against Alabama, the Gophers evaded most of their competitors’ shots. They never trailed by more than nine points and had a chance to win in the game’s closing seconds before falling 70-67.
Gophers coach Clem Haskins said Tuesday that he felt his team was ripe for the plucking. They had just returned from its San Juan Shootout championship Sunday, and Haskins was worried his players might be tired from all the travelling.
But Minnesota had a 15-10 lead in the first half before the Crimson Tide mounted a comeback by taking the 3-point shot when they had the chance.
Alabama took plenty of long range shots against Minnesota. Overall the Tide shot the ball 28 times from 3-point distance. The Gophers survived most of them, but it was the Tide’s last one which finally made a direct hit, 10 seconds after Minnesota tied the game 67-67.
The Gophers (5-1) were down by three points and had possession with 28 seconds left. Bobby Jackson got the ball and forced a 3-pointer. He missed, but Tide guard Brian Williams fouled him with 15.3 seconds left, sending him to the free throw line.
Jackson, who made all four of his free throw attempts prior to that point, made the three shots to tie the game.
That’s when Alabama guard Eric Washington spoiled the Gophers comeback. Just like he had all night, the senior took a 3-pointer with 5.5 seconds left.
He made it.
The Gophers got the ball to the other side of the court before calling a timeout. With just over two seconds left forward Sam Jacobson, who finished with 15 points, tried a 3-pointer but missed.
Alabama (6-0) erupted on the court while Minnesota quietly walked off.
Jackson led the Gophers with 17 points. Minnesota shot only 39.7 percent from the floor, while Alabama shot just a hair better and made 10 shots beyond the 3-point arc.
Gophers point guard Eric Harris finished with five points. The junior entered the game leading Minnesota in scoring with 15 points per game. Harris was 1-for-7 from the floor.
The Gophers will have 10 days to think about their game. They don’t play again until Dec. 15 when they host St. John’s at Williams Arena.

##16 Gophers 34 33 — 67
40 30 — 70

SCORING — James 2-6 0-2 4, Jacobson 7-15 0-0 15, J. Thomas 5-7 3-5 13, Jackson 5-12 7-7 17, Harris 1-7 2-2 5, Archambault 0-1 0-0 0, Lewis 3-6 0-0 6, C. Thomas 2-4 0-0 5, Tarver 0-2 2-2 2, Winter 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-63 14-18 67.
REBOUNDING — James 7, Jacobson 6, Jackson 5, J. Thomas 4, Harris 3, Winter 3, Archambault 2, Lewis 1, C. Thomas 1, Tarver 1.
A — 8,755.