Gophers fall to Wisconsin on the road

Jace Frederick

Madison, Wis. — The Gophers used an excellent interior offensive attack and limited turnovers in their 81-68 win over Wisconsin on Jan. 22.

The script was flipped on Thursday night.

Minnesota (16-9, 5-7) got nothing in the paint and was careless with the ball in its 78-70 defeat at the hands of the Badgers (20-5, 7-5).

“When you turn the ball over 13 times and you allow them to make 30 points off free throws, you’re not going to win on the road,” Gophers head coach Richard Pitino said.

Minnesota turned the ball over  13 times, including nine times in the first half, against a Wisconsin squad that doesn’t tend to force mistakes.

“We were making plays that just were uncharacteristic of us,” Pitino said. “We had some costly ones, really in the first half.”

The Gophers scored 48 points in the paint in their victory over Wisconsin. Junior center Mo Walker had 18 points and nine rebounds.

On Thursday, he was limited to five boards and two boards, while Minnesota scored only 20 points in the paint. Walker played just 15 minutes, largely because of foul trouble.

“Mo was not himself because of foul trouble,” Pitino said. “He was very timid defensively because he was scared to foul, and that affected his offense.”

Fouling was an issue all night for the Gophers. 

Both Joey King and Austin Hollins fouled out as Minnesota committed 26 fouls and the Badgers attempted 36 free throws.

It was another example of the inconsistency that’s hindered Minnesota all season after the Gophers played so well defensively in a win over Indiana  on Saturday.

“We didn’t get stops,” Pitino said. “We fouled too much. “

The Gophers didn’t seem to get much of anything going on the offensive end either, outside of junior guard Andre Hollins.

Hollins finished with 22 points, marking the fourth time in six career matchups with Wisconsin where he’s hit the 20-point mark.

But 11 of those points came in the final 5:36 of the game as the Gophers went with a smaller lineup and attempted to mount a ferocious comeback.

Minnesota went on an 18-8 run to cut the deficit to five points with 1:20 to play, but couldn’t get any closer.

“We definitely wanted to come in and get one here,” Hollins said. “We had an opportunity, but we can’t hang our heads.”

Up next for the Gophers is a battle with Northwestern on Sunday. 

“We’ve got to come out, we’ve got to bounce back,” Hollins said, “get ready for another opportunity.”