Depleted Gophers blown out by Rutgers

Minnesota matched a program record with its 22nd loss of the year Saturday.

Freshman Stephon Sharp guards the ball from Wisconsin at Williams Arena on Wednesday.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Freshman Stephon Sharp guards the ball from Wisconsin at Williams Arena on Wednesday.

by Ryan Falk

The Gophers disappointing regular season ended with a large thud.
Minnesota, short another key player, lost 75-52 on the road to Rutgers on Saturday. The victory was the Scarlet Knights’ first in the Big Ten since Jan. 11, 2015.
The Gophers played without senior forward Joey King, whose season is potentially over after a right foot fracture. With three players already suspended for the year and senior guard Carlos Morris dismissed from the team, Minnesota was without five of its top six scorers.
The loss tied a Minnesota record for most losses in a season with 22.
“You know, the guys that played today, it’s not their fault,” head coach Richard Pitino told reporters after the game. “It’s next to impossible right now with the situation that we were dealt to score points.”
The Scarlet Knights (7-24, 1-17 Big Ten) shot 44.1 percent from the floor, while the Gophers shot 30.1 percent. Rutgers also out-rebounded Minnesota 46-42.
Sophomore guard Mike Williams scored 29 points for the Scarlet Knights, while the Gophers leading scorers, redshirt junior Charles Buggs and freshman Stephon Sharp, had 13 points each.
The Gophers (8-22, 2-16) struggled to make shots with only five scholarship players available and didn’t score in the first four minutes.
Sharp, a walk-on guard, scored the team’s first points, and the Gophers went another five minutes without scoring.
Minnesota was 6-40 shooting in the first half, good for 15 percent, and recorded only two assists. The team trailed at halftime 40-15.
Freshman forward Jordan Murphy, the team’s second-leading scorer, struggled in the first half after a dominant performance the last time he played Rutgers on Feb. 23. He had 19 points and 14 rebounds in that game, but he was 1-14 in the first half on Saturday and scored only two first-half points.
“This stretch has seemed definitely awkward and weird,” Murphy said after the team’s loss to Wisconsin on March 2. “[We’re] just trying different matchups and different lineups. Guys are playing positions they don’t usually play.”
Murphy played 39 minutes in the game and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. 
Sophomore center Bakary Konate ended with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We’re all playing as hard as we can and giving everything that we’ve got,” Sharp said after the team’s loss to Wisconsin on March 2. “Just letting the results end up where they may be.”
Minnesota finished the regular season 13th in the Big Ten. The Gophers failed to win a road game all season.