Gopher Game Blog: Wisconsin 78 Minnesota 76

Wisconsin beat Minnesota 78-76 in overtime in an excellent game. Minnesota was dominated in the middle once again as Badger big Ethan Happ had 28 points and 12 rebounds while Bronson Koenig hit some clutch treys late. Minnesota falls to 3-4 in Big Ten play.

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Pregame

Wisconsin has used the same starting five all year: Bronson Koenig, Zak Showalter, Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, Ethan Happ.  Likely to do the same again.  As far as the Gophers go, they have been starting Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, and Reggie Lynch.  There has been talk of Akeem Springs starting for Dupree.  Will it happen?  Right now that is unclear.  Amir Coffey was banged up in the last game but looks good in the warm-ups.....The atmosphere on campus is electric for this sell-out.  Fans all over the place....Wisconsin has lost once in Big Ten play while Minnesota is 3-3.  The Badgers are ranked in the top 20, the Gophers were ranked 24th but fell out of the polls after the back to back road loss...Minnesota has a massive amount of visitors for this game recruiting wise.  They include: Jack Hutchison of Maple Grove who is likely to walk-on next year, 2018 commit Daniel Oturu of CDH and 2018 offered Gabe Kalscheur of DeLaSalle, 2019s Matthew Hurt of Rochester JM, Tyrell Terry of DeLaSalle, Tyson Wahl of Lakeville North, Isaiah Miller of Robbinsdale Armstrong, and Jamison Battle of BSM, and 2020s Jalen Suggs of Minnehaha Academy, Terry Lockett of Minnehaha Academy, and Austin Andrews of Eden Prairie...The football recruits will also be at the game today and there are several of them....Akeem Springs is starting in place of Dupree McBrayer...

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First Half

Showalter attacks baseline, Amir is nowhere to be found in help, easy lay-up.  Amir was out of position in help…Badgers first possession is excellent, Minnesota’s is Nate Mason attacking a forcing a contested shot.  Badgers come back and Ethan Happ just muscles up an And1 over Reggie putting a foul on him. Great start for Wisconsin…Murphy also gets a foul early as Nigel got him to lean in and Murphy fouled out of position…Amir with two really nice passes to Reggie early, one for a score and one got a foul…Murphy looks off a Reggie Lynch post-up and pulls a quick jumper.  And it goes!  I didn’t like it at first but it went…Two early blocks from Reggie….Murphy doesn’t talk on defense, Springs gets crushed on a screen, Showalter hits on a skip.  That’s on Murphy for not talking out the screen…WI 10 MN 6…

Amir comes out of the timeout and hits a feet set three off a Mason pass….Bronson curls a screen, Nate trails but gets no help from Murphy and it’s an easy Badger lay-up.  That’s three costly defensive mistakes from Murphy early…Bakary Konate steps on the floor and gets a block and an offensive board.  Big effort plays from him right away…Dupree McBrayer steps on the floor and instantly attacks to get foul shot makes…Eric Curry has Nate Mason curling but elects to shoot a contested jumper instead.  Eric had Nate wide open but decided to shoot a low percentage jumper, again.  He then gets foul number two.  Bad minutes from Eric Curry…Konate forces a miss, ball is pushed for a lay-up.  That’s what they need…MN 13 WI 14…

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Gopher defense gets another stop, pushes it ahead to Amir, Amir attacks and gets an And1.  Gophers take the lead pushing the ball on back to back chances (off of stops)…Dupree attacks and misses a contested floater while Akeem is wide open behind him.  Those are the plays that got him out of the starting line-up…BUT, Dupree pushes and finds Akeem this time and it’s a three make…Happ physically puts his shoulder down and drives the Gophers back again for an attempt.  They have to try and take a charge one of these times…McBrayer with a buzzer beating shot clock make…MN 20 WI 18…

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Dupree makes a three, Akeem makes a three.  Gophers getting excellent bench minutes from Dupree later in his stint on the floor…Lynch picks up a weak second foul call on a grab moving his feet…Murphy goes under the screen giving Hayes all kinds of room so Nigel hits a the open three…Mason on for Dupree who had a really good nine minute stretch…Nate Mason gets a goaltending call….Nigel attacks baseline and Amir is not looking again and there is no help for Jordan so Nigel scores again.  Bakary couldn’t get over either…Akeem Springs has been huge  in stretching the defense with his increased minutes.  Has three treys…Nigel Hayes has to be gameplanned for at the half.  Help needs to know where he’s at…Amir with another jumper giving Minnesota a three point lead…Nate Mason has made just one shot but has five assists…Bakary gives Happ nothing, great dig from Springs, Showalter airball vs contesting Springs.  Great defense…Showalter picks up both feet traveling and it’s a no call.  Basket goes and Pitino is so angry…Pull-up goes for Nate! That was needed in a big way for him…Bronson gets loose but Bakary makes him go over the top and it’s a miss.  Bakary also pushed Happ two steps off the block…MN 35 WI 32…

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Second Half

Hayes simply muscles Murphy back, drills him with a shoulder, scores.  Gophs have to try and take a charge on one of these contacts…Gophers get Mason switched on to Hayes, Murphy just leaves him with no help.  Of course Nigel goes for the score but Reggie blocks.  Happ then is open to finish because, Murphy didn’t rotate to make a hit.  Frustrating…Murphy easily gets beat again and Pitino gets him out.  Curry on.  I really don’t know what Jordan is thinking defensively.  It’s just not enough effort…Lynch with some excellent halfcourt defense forcing a shot clock violation….Amir hits Springs on a hard cut with the perfect pass.  Great vision…Lynch stop Happ with straight up arms, ball is pushed to Mason, Mason to Coffey, Coffey attack And1 against late arriving defense.  Perfect execution…MN 40 WI 38…

Alex Illikainen, from Grand Rapids, Minnesota who Minnesota was after, just airballed a shot so hard it smashed the backboard and almost hurt somebody.  That was ugly…Eric Curry three, it goes!  They needed that but D’Mitrik Trice sinks to counter.  Trice has been quiet and he’s a big shooter for them…Happ dunks but Amir Coffey hits his fourth jumper of the game, this one a three.  His fourth jumper make of the game…Dupree looks off three open guys and tries a contested shot that misses.  Selfish play.  Kick that out.  He missed and then Happ went the other way to score….MN 48 WI 47…

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Coffey makes another jumper.  He’s been outstanding hitting jumpers with feet set.  Coffey and Happ are going back at each other over and over.  Nobody can stop Happ right now.  He’s just outmuscling everybody….Amir hits again, Reggie nasty dunk.  Every time they are counter with a Happ score.  Every time….This is Nick Ward and Caleb Swanigan all over again.  Easy catches and finishes in a very physical way…MN 59 WI 60…

Mason pushes, Dupree gets wide, Dupree hits a three.  Big make….Officials whistle Lynch for a terribly weak third foul.  Replay shows it’s awful.  Crowd goes insane.  That may rank with the worst call I’ve seen this year…Happ spins again to space and gets to the foul line.  You have to keep your balance and be smart with space.  Happ has done that about five times now with success…Minnesota is getting stops when Happ doesn’t touch it.  Wisconsin just traveled and they’ve had some bad turnovers…MN 64 WI 64…

Do you think about going with four guards/wings?  Murphy and Curry have struggled so badly.  Especially Jordan.  You would have to put Amir on Nigel which is not ideal especially when Nigel is playing near the post…Lynch fouls out…Happ is a bad foul shooter and he just missed two right there with two minutes to go…Mason goes for the pull-up down there and it’s long….Mason misses again late.  Nate is 3 of 14 and has been struggling coming into the game with his touch.  They have to get something else, like Coffey or Springs who have been good with feet set and ball coming to them.  A set right now getting one of them an open look would be huge…And there it is!!! Akeem catches off a screen, dribbles, hits to tie the game…Coffey was fouled around the buzzer, but was it before the final buzzer?  Officials looking…We have OT

Overtime

Nigel Hayes makes a long face-up jumper over Curry…Bakary smashes a guy with an elbow on the drive and gets the whistle.  Makes both…Amir banks in a shot!  Bad attempt but Gopher fans have had more bad luck than anyone lately.  Crowd goes wild with the lead…Gophers get some excellent defense but after a block the shot finds its way to Koenig who makes a huge three for the lead…Mason attacks a gap, gets his man on his hip, is fouled, makes two…Bakary is bing very physical with Happ, he misses after a travel, Gopher ball…Nigel Hayes goes physical shoving Curry off and he scores…Tie game…Mason attacks and Eric Curry hits another overtime jumper.  High percentage in OT….Koenig hits another jumper off several baseline screens and Badgers are up one with 38 to play…Coffey misses on an attack, Bakary losses the battle for the ball…Happ banks in a foul shot.  Wow.  That counters the Coffey bank shot.  He misses the second…Gophers push the other way, Mason passes to Springs in a bad spot, Akeem misses a tough shot at the buzzer and falls.  Akeem had a guy all over him…WI 78 MN 76…


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