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Live Blog: Gophers Men’s Basketball at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Gophers seek to rebound from a squandered upset chance on Wednesday against No. 3 Purdue in a matchup with Illinois at Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon.  The Illini are currently considered the last Big Ten team in serious contention for the NCAA Tournament, but the Gophers can bring themselves back with a big winning streak, starting with a road win at Illinois, where they last won on March 9, 1996.  That game was later vacated, and Minnesota’s last win prior to that came on Feb. 16, 1978.

Final – A dunk by Carter and a free throw by Joseph in the final minute proved to be enough, as Richardson missed a two-point jumper with defenders in his face at the buzzer. GOPHERS 62, ILLINOIS 60.

1:20 2nd – Illinois has found 3-point shooting outside of Cole, as Richardson has hit his last two from long range. It was a 19-point game less than six minutes ago. GOPHERS 59, ILLINOIS 58.

2:56 2nd – The Illini just closed the Gophers’ lead to their smallest of the half on the fifth 3-pointer by Cole. But Cole fouled out on the next Minnesota possession, sending Johnson the free-throw line, where he made both. GOPHERS 59, ILLINOIS 52.

3:38 2nd – The crowd is trying to carry the Illini back into the game. Illinois has forced a couple of turnovers and drawn a couple of fouls on its currently 14-4 run. Westbrook just committed his team-leading third turnover when he slipped with the ball and was called for a travel. illinois will have a chance to close the gap further. GOPHERS 55, ILLINOIS 46.

7:34 2nd – The Gophers 10-0 run just ended with a basket by McCamey, which cut into the Gophers’ game-high 17-point lead. GOPHERS 46, ILLINOIS 31.

15:41 2nd – The crowd at Assembly Hall is finally back in it after Cole has hit three 3-point shots for the Illini. Minnesota’s defense has allowed some quick ball movement for Illinois on recent possessions. GOPHERS 33, ILLINOIS 25.

Halftime – Minnesota has held Illinois to just 14 first-half points, a season low. It’s also the fewest points the Gophers have allowed in a half this season. Four big men (Johnson, Sampson, sophomore Colton Iverson and junior Paul Carter) have four points each for the Gophers. Richardson and Tisdale have four points apiece for the Illini. GOPHERS 24, ILLINOIS 14.

2:26 1st – The Gophers continue to play well inside, outscoring Illinois 16-8 in the paint. The Illini have started to get offensive rebounds, but Minnesota has also forced them to take tougher shots late on the shot clock. Seven players have scored for Minnesota, none more than four points. Illinois is shooting barely better than 20 percent. GOPHERS 22, ILLINOIS 12.

7:21 1st – The inside game (Iverson and Johnson four points each) might have opened up an outside game (Hoffarber just hit first 3-point field goal). Minnesota has out-rebounded the Illini 14-9. These two teams have the two best field-goal percentage defenses in the Big Ten, so this pace of scoring doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. GOPHERS 16, ILLINOIS 8.

9:48 1st – Minnesota has been able to find some inside scoring when they’ve attacked there. Four of five field goals have come in the paint. The Illini have made only 4-of-17 field goals, including 0-of-4 from 3-point range. They’re getting open looks from the Gophers’ zone defense, though. GOPHERS 11, ILLINOIS 8.

15:54 1st – At Assembly Hall, where the Illini fans are seated against the floor on three sides of the court, neither team has had a great shooting start. Illinois scored on a pull-up jumper by Richardson, and Minnesota scored on a dunk by Johnson off of a pass from Sampson. Both teams are 1-of-5 on field goal attempts. GOPHERS 2, ILLINOIS 2.

Starting Lineups:

Minnesota Gophers (16-11, 7-8 Big Ten):

F Sr. Damian Johnson (10.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 2.0 assists per game)
C So. Ralph Sampson III (8.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 APG)
G So. Devoe Joseph (8.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.1 APG)
G Sr. Lawrence Westbrook (13.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.0 APG)
G Jr. Blake Hoffarber (11.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG)

Illinois Fighting Illini (18-10, 10-5 Big Ten):

F Jr. Mike Davis (10.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.0 APG)
C Jr. Mike Tisdale (11.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.7 APG)
G Fr. D.J. Richardson (10.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.3 APG)
F Jr. Bill Cole (4.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.1 APG)
G Jr. Demetri McCamey (15.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.8 APG)

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