Minnesota loses to Illinois, again

The Gophers were just 3-of-18 from three-point range in the game.

Zach Eisendrath

While the Minnesota men’s basketball team snapped a pair of losing streaks earlier in the week, it couldn’t end a third Saturday.

The Gophers put up a solid effort but lost for the 17th consecutive time to Illinois, as the Illini toppled Minnesota 59-49 at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill.

up next

Iowa
when: 7 p.m. Wednesday
where: Williams Arena
TV: FSN North

Minnesota hasn’t been on the winning side of the series since 1999, and the Gophers haven’t won a game at Illinois since 1996.

Still, in what has become an almost un-winnable place for Minnesota, there were many positives the team can take from the game.

Sophomore center Jonathan Williams continues to show his dependability down low as he scored 10 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Junior forward Dan Coleman scored a team-high 13 points.

Even junior guard Limar Wilson, in his first game back from an undisclosed injury, proved he still has a spot in the rotation – scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting.

The Gophers also showed more energy and fight in one half than they did in the entire game against the Illini two weeks ago.

In that game, Illinois jumped out to a 13-0 lead and cruised to victory at Williams Arena. This time around the Gophers hung in for a solid 20 minutes and were only down four at the half.

But all the good Minnesota did Saturday was done in by one very bad stretch. Trailing 29-25 at the break, the Gophers went just 1-of-13 from the floor to start the second half and quickly found themselves down as many as 21 after a 23-6 Illini run over the first 13 minutes of the second half.

That run, in which Minnesota wasn’t hitting from the perimeter, cost the Gophers the game and continues to help prove a distinct trend that has been prevalent in wins and losses within the conference for Minnesota.

On the night, the Gophers went just 3-of-18 from behind the arc and sophomore guard Jamal Abu-Shamala, usually the Minnesota’s sharpest shooter, went 0-of-5 from three-point range and didn’t score. The Gophers are averaging just under four three-pointers made in their six conference losses and have drilled a combined 28 from long distance in their three Big Ten wins.

While Minnesota’s perimeter shooting left much to be desired, the grit the Gophers displayed in its previous two games – wins over Penn State and Northwestern – was still evident in the loss.

Trailing by 21 points, Minnesota cut Illinois’ lead to nine with more than four minutes remaining, which gave the Gophers at least a chance of making things interesting.