Clark spurs Gophers comeback

Tim Nichols

Minnesota’s guard Kevin Clark entered a mystical place in the second half of the Gophers’ 72-61 victory over Oregon, one that many have talked about but only few can explain.
Clark entered the zone.
“One time down the court, Miles (Tarver) told me to look at my feet,” Clark said, “When I looked, I was two or three feet behind the (three-point stripe), and I was like, `Oh, my God.’ But I shot it anyway.”
And it fell. And fell. And fell again.
After a sub-par first half, Clark single-handedly brought the Gophers back from 14 points down by shooting 8-for-9 from the floor — including 5-for-6 from three-point range in the second half — to end the game with a career-high of 31 points.
Clark scored 17 points in the first 6:07 of the second half.
“Kevin Clark helped us in the second half with some big, big threes,” coach Clem Haskins said. “He played outstanding basketball and did a good job of contributing.”
What makes Clark’s effort in the second half even more amazing was that he was dead-tired in the first half of the game.
Clark suffers from periodic seizures brought on by fatigue and dehydration. According to Clark, he has dealt with this ailment since his junior year of high school, with his latest episode happening on Thanksgiving day at Haskins’ house.
“I’m on medication for it,” Clark said. “If I continue to watch what I eat (and) keep my body full of fluids, I’ll be all right.”
The senior must have been chock full of kerosene in the second half, because he was on fire. He opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers and never looked back.
The offensive explosion by Clark was just what the Gophers needed because their other big gun, Quincy Lewis, was struggling from the floor — shooting 3-for-9 from the field in the first half.
But that’s alright with Lewis, as long as it helps the team win.
“When the athletic department came up with their slogan, it wasn’t just Quincy Lewis, it was Lewis and Clark,” Lewis said. “And I think tonight was a great show of that. Kevin is a key part of this team. If he goes out and does that every night, I would love to be the second man and the cheerleader.”
Clark showed the type of offensive game that he showed in last year’s NIT tournament when he scored 30 points and led the Gophers past semi-final opponent Fresno State — Minnesota’s next opponent.
As long as Clark continues to dwell in the zone, the Gophers are never going to be out of a game this year.
“When I hit my first two I felt good and the crowd was behind me,” Clark said. “And I was just shooting, and it was just falling.”