Road Struggles Continue Against the Gophers

<p>The Michigan Wolverines squandered a double-digit lead and became the Minnesota Golden Gophers&#8217; first Big Ten victim Wednesday night in an <strong>81-78 loss </strong>.</p>

The tale of woe on the road continued for the Wolverines Wednesday night in Minneapolis. Prior to the contest the Golden Gophers were winless in the league and reeling from their lack of success thus far in the season. In an attempt to inspire his squad, Gopher coach Dan Monson took his team to see the new Disney movie Miracle, a theatrical recap of United States Hockey team’s surprise Gold medal victory in the 1980 Olympics. Whether that had an effect on how his team played isn’t known, but it did seem as if they played inspired early on.

After Courtney Sims knocked down the opening basket of the game on a turnaround post move, the Gophers scored the next three baskets and held the lead until the midway point. The Wolverines committed double-digit turnovers during that period of time but were kept in the game by the Gophers’ equally poor ball security. Daniel Horton and Lester Abram combined for 15 points in a seven minute span to give the Wolverines their first lead since the opening bucket, 19-18, with 9:13 left in the first half. The lead changed hands a few more times over the next couple of minutes until the Wolverines went on a big run that should have given them control of the game.

Michigan went on a 14-0 run over two minutes to give them a 38-26 lead with 3:14 left on the clock. The Gophers finally ended the drought on a Jeff Hagen jumper and were able to convert a few more buckets down the stretch. Still, the Wolverines were able to match them and went into the locker room with a 45-34 lead.

The Gophers came out in the second half and scored two quick buckets to cut the lead to 7. Bernard Robinson Jr. held the Gophers at bay with a couple of jumpers, but picked up his 4th foul early in the half and was forced to sit down. The Michigan offense seemed to bog down afterward and the maize and blue settled for a number of jumpers, which had stopped falling. Minnesota, on the other hand, continued their offensive production and freshman phenom Kris Humphries tied the game at 59 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 9:32 remaining in the game. Michigan battled back and regained the lead 63-62 on a Daniel Horton jumper, but then the Gophers went on a run of their own. Minnesota scored 9 straight points (7 from the free throw line) to wrestle the lead away, 71-63 with 5:38 to go. The Gophers increased their lead to 10 before Horton would cut into with a number of driving buckets. Michigan still had a chance late when Minnesota's Adam Boone missed two free throws after being fouled, but Dion Harris' 3-pointer to tie it fell short and the Wolverines lost 81-78.

On the game Michigan was led by Horton with 15 points and 5 assists, Abram with 15 points and 5 rebounds, and Robinson with 14 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out. The Gophers were paced by Humphries with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Ben Johnson with 20 points (3/5 from 3-point land), and Jeff Hagen with 16 points and 10 rebounds. For the full boxscore, click here.

The Wolverines (13-7, 4-5 Big Ten) get another stiff road test when the travel to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to take on Iowa on Saturday at 2:30.

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