Carr’s effort not enough against Nebraska

The Gophers’ men’s basketball tournament hopes continue to dwindle as they stay winless on the road.

Brandon+Johnson+rebounds+the+ball+during+the+first+quarter+against+Illinois+at+Williams+Arena+on+Saturday+Feb.+20.+The+Gophers+lost+with+a+final+score+of+63-94.

Parker Johnson

Brandon Johnson rebounds the ball during the first quarter against Illinois at Williams Arena on Saturday Feb. 20. The Gophers lost with a final score of 63-94.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

The Gophers’ men’s basketball team wasn’t able to beat the Big Ten’s worst team on the road. A career-high night from redshirt junior Marcus Carr wasn’t enough for Minnesota (13-12) as they fell to Nebraska (6-17) 78-74. The Gophers are now on a season-high, five-game losing streak with just two games left in the regular season.

Carr looked like the player from the beginning of the season that Minnesota was riding to an undefeated nonconference schedule. He scored a career-high 41 points and accounted for six of the eight threes Minnesota hit.

“It wasn’t surprising, we all know how talented of a player [Carr] is,” redshirt senior Eric Curry said of Carr’s performance.

Outside of Nebraska’s mistakes, the Gophers weren’t getting many stops on the defensive end. The Cornhuskers were getting open looks, and Minnesota made them look like a team that had more than just one conference win on the season coming into Saturday.

Minnesota continued to show its road struggles and couldn’t get going on offense. Outside of Carr, the Gophers couldn’t get in much of a rhythm as they remain winless on the road.

It wasn’t just the lack of offense that contributed to the loss, but also the fact that Nebraska was hot from the field. The Cornhuskers shooting, combined with Minnesota’s defensive breakdowns, allowed Nebraska to shoot 55% from the field.

“We couldn’t really get a stop, and then we missed a lot of open shots. Where we came back …  we [were] in the double bonus and that’s where we started chipping away and getting points,” head coach Richard Pitino said.

Even after winning the turnover battle, again, Minnesota wasn’t able to take advantage of the sloppy play. They turned Nebraska’s 18 turnovers into 24 points, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the poor shooting.

The Gophers got trigger happy from deep after they started out the game 6-of-19. They quickly cooled down and finished the game shooting 2-of-11 from behind the arc. They finished the night shooting just 34% from the field, and just 30% outside of Carr.

Carr kept the Gophers in the game until the end with one of his best performances of the season. For the first time in two months, Carr scored over 30 points after a hot start in the first half.

Carr hasn’t been his dominant self in the past month for the Gophers. He was on a mission to save Minnesota’s season against Nebraska and started the game on fire. The Gophers were struggling, for the most part, on offense outside of Carr, but he was doing enough to keep them in the game.

Just two days after the team shot 4-of-27 from deep, Carr was lights out to begin the game. Carr has struggled on the road this whole season, but came out of the gates firing and had 20 first half points including five three-pointers.

Minnesota ran into another roadblock, similar to the one it had to start the second half against Northwestern, and went on a five minute scoring drought. Fortunately for them, the team’s deficit never exceeded five in the first half. It was another sloppy game from both teams as they combined for 20 turnovers before the break.

Nebraska accounted for 13 of those turnovers, which Minnesota turned into 17 points on its end. The problem for the Gophers, and the reason they went into half down two, came from their 28% shooting from the field while Nebraska connected on 54% of its shots.

If the loss to Northwestern wasn’t enough to diminish the Gophers’ hopes of going to the NCAA tournament, this loss just about sealed the deal. No team has ever made the tournament without a road win, and Minnesota has just one more chance to grab that. Even if the team can defeat Penn State, Minnesota will need to make a run in the Big Ten tournament in order to sneak into the NCAA tournament.

“You don’t really talk like that as a coach, you just kind of evaluate the Nebraska game and see where we can get better,” Pitino said about tournament talk. “And then you just prepare for Penn State, you never really look at it like that.”