Northwestern pulls off upset over Minnesota in Evanston

It was an ugly end to an otherwise high-flying winter break for the Gophers. Big Ten bottomfeeder Northwestern upset the No. 18 Gophers on Sunday 74-65, ending a nine-game stretch that left Minnesota in the top-25 for the first time since 2002. The Gophers fell to No. 20 in the top 25 released monday but, they are still off to their best start in the Big Ten (4-2) since 1992. Lawrence Westbrook led the Gophers with 18 points and eight rebounds, and Damian Johnson added 14 points. But cold shooting âÄî the team missed 12 of their first 13 shots in the second half âÄî and Craig MooreâÄôs six 3-pointers for Northwestern ended a stretch of games that had made the Gophers the hottest team in town. Westbrook was coming off a career game against Wisconsin three days earlier when he scored 29 points and hit a game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds left, sending the game into overtime and eventually giving the Gophers their first win in Madison in 15 years. âÄúWeâÄôre a good team,âÄù Westbrook said after that game. âÄúIf we get hot, we get hot. We have a lot of shooters and a lot of scorers on this team.âÄù Perhaps as big was their upset of then-No. 9 Louisville on Dec. 20. They didnâÄôt trail the Cardinals, who started the season ranked No. 3, after the first basket of the game on a neutral site in Arizona. They opened the Big Ten schedule with a loss to then-No. 10 Michigan State, but didnâÄôt look back. They easily beat Ohio State at home, where Westbrook again led with 15 points. Then, in Iowa City, they trailed by 13 points in the second half before narrowly winning, 52-49. At home, against Penn State on Jan. 11, the Gophers showed some muscle, beating the Nittany Lions by 20 points. âÄúOur team gets through adversity pretty well,âÄù sophomore Paul Carter said after the game. That was clear against Wisconsin, when the Gophers trailed by 6 points with 48 seconds left in regulation before rallying back. All this set up the Gophers for a short path to the NCAA tournament, provided they could beat the teams they should beat. And the Wildcats are exactly that. Though they led No. 19 Purdue by as many as 14 points on Thursday, Northwestern had lost 27 of their last 28 Big Ten games coming in. Minnesota led by three at halftime, but shot just 34.5 percent in the second half. The Wildcats went on a 26-7 run that sealed the game, as the Gophers didnâÄôt have the shooting to get back in. They also turned the ball over 19 times, including six from point guard Al Nolen, Jr. TheyâÄôll have a chance to rebound, momentum or not, against Purdue on Thursday.