Gophers miss last-second chance at upset bid

Minnesota had a chance to tie No. 2 Ohio State, but Austin Hollins had a desperation 3-pointer blocked just before the buzzer.

by Josh Katzenstein

ThatâÄôs not what Tubby Smith drew up.
The Gophers menâÄôs basketball team had a chance to bring a game against No. 2 Ohio State to overtime, but trailing 67-64 with 15.1 seconds left, Minnesota didnâÄôt even take a shot that hit the rim after Smith called a timeout.
Senior guard Al Nolen took the in-bounds pass on the final possession and looked for Blake Hoffarber to get open. He didnâÄôt, so Nolen gave it to freshman Austin Hollins, who had his desperation 3-pointer blocked by William Buford with less than two seconds left as the Buckeyes held on, 67-64.
The Gophers (12-4, 1-3 Big Ten) were fortunate to be as close as they were and battled back from what was an 18-point deficit with just 8:09 remaining. Buckeyes center Dallas Lauderdale had the chance to ice the game, but he missed two free throws with 28.5 seconds left. The Gophers took the ball down only to have Nolen miss a layup. Then, luckily, Lauderdale threw an ill-advised pass right to Hollins, who then missed a layup but the Gophers retained possession and Smith called the timeout.
The Buckeyes didnâÄôt make a field goal during the final 5:14, but they hit enough free throws to outlast a Gophers team that struggled mightily on offense in the first half.
After a Ralph Sampson bucket cut the deficit to two with 7:24 in the first half, the Gophers went more than six minutes without a point. The Buckeyes closed the half on a 12-4 run to take a 32-22 lead at the break that proved insurmountable for the Gophers. The 22 points were the lowest by Minnesota in a first half this season.
Leading the way for the Gophers was junior Trevor Mbakwe, who finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. His matchup with Buckeyes freshman Jared Sullinger, who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, lived up to the billing, but another Ohio State player stole the show.
Fifth-year senior David Lighty scored a game-high 19 points and went 3-for-4 from 3-point range to keep the BuckeyesâÄô record unblemished (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten).
Nolen finished with 11 points and six assists, but he shot just 2-for-10 from the field and was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. The Gophers had little production from their bench players (nobody scored more than four points), who often looked lost in the game.