Przybilla’s huge second half dwarfs Indiana

Indiana basketball player Michael Lewis sat on the floor of the Hoosiers locker room with his jersey draped over his head. Coach Bobby Knight paced back and forth between the locker room and the coaches room.
The Hoosiers were clearly trying to figure out how Minnesota was able to erase a five-point deficit with just over a minute left to defeat the Hoosiers 77-75.
But perhaps even more, they were trying to figure out how Gophers center Joel Przybilla stole the Hoosiers’ life, then strapped Minnesota on his back for a joy ride down the stretch to give his team the win.
Przybilla had the game of his life Wednesday night, scoring a career-high 33 points, and pulling down 14 boards in Minnesota’s upset over 10th-ranked Indiana.
Was it your best game Joel?
“I think so,” Przybilla said. “Not only myself, but the best game I’ve played with a team.
“We had moments in there where we could have folded, but we stuck it to them and competed our hearts out.”
Przybilla finished the first half with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and six rebounds.
But the second half is where he turned it up a notch, making all 11 of his attempts and grabbing another eight boards.
Of his 33 points, the final two were the game-winners. Off a fast break, Przybilla took the pass from Terrance Simmons and laid it in for the victory with 3.9 ticks left on the clock.
“I had confidence in Terrance, he had the ball in the right situation,” Przybilla said. “He is a great playmaker and he found me at the right spot.”
Przybilla said he felt unstoppable out on the floor.
“It was one of those games where everything was right,” he said. “The basket seemed like it was gigantic.”
Minnesota coach Dan Monson said last week his team lacked a go-to player.
Monson listed Indiana’s A.J. Guyton as one of those players. But on this night it was Przybilla, not Guyton, who took over the game.
He was gigantic.
“It was probably by far one of his best performances,” Monson said. “He is just getting better and better. I think we have all known he has tremendous ability, but it has been a situation where he has grown into his game, especially offensively.”
Monson also credited Przybilla’s teammates for feeding him the ball where he could get the baskets.
But beyond his post offense, Przybilla was huge on the glass, grabbing two rebounds shy of his career-high 16. And he was all over his teammates missed shots.
“He stepped up so much and was so active on the boards, and got a lot of baskets just on hard work and toughness,” Monson said.
So, in the end, was Monson surprised with his sophomore’s effort against Indiana?
“No, I want that every game.”

John R. Carter welcomes comments at [email protected]