"Obviously a terrific win,” Richard Pitino said after the game. “I'm exhausted. Five overtime games in conference, that's got to be a record. At the end of the day we made winning plays. Made winning free throws. We found a way to do that and also get some rebounds when we needed to.
“Obviously did a good job at getting to the foul line. It was nice to see Dupree McBrayer get out of his mini slump. So, we beat a really good team. Terrific crowd, and five in a row is something to be proud of, so we'll celebrate tonight and get back to work tomorrow."
Michigan was whistled ten more times than Minnesota was leading to the Gophers shooting 41 free throws. At one point the Gophers made just 4 of 13 and 12 of 24 but things balanced out as the game moved on with the Gophers making 28 of 41 overall.
Was it the home crowd’s booing after each miss that got the Gophers to make them? Um, no. It was Minnesota’s tough players stepping to the line and closing off the game.
"The overtime games need to stop because they're driving me crazy, but at the end of the day, having overtime games early has taught these guys a lot and we have found ways to tighten up things and make big free throws,” Pitino said.
“They are a mentally tough group. They do not get too high or too low, and a lot of that has to do with Nate Mason because he is pretty level headed. To lose five games in a row and then to come back and win five in a row says a lot about the guys. They really only care about winning."
Mason had a tough night shooting (3 of 13) but he made the key plays to push his team to the victory. With eight assists, four boards, 6 of 9 foul shooting hitting key ones late, and knocking down that four point play Mason helped lead the team to the W.
Another player that stepped forward in a big way was freshman Eric Curry. With Reggie Lynch in foul trouble again playing only 13 minutes (had 11 points and eight boards in those minutes) Curry stepped up and scored a key dozen.
"(Eric) was terrific,” Pitino said. “He made some mid-range shots, and some winning plays. He's only a freshman so there is a lot to be excited about with him. He's a tough kid who is performing in clutch moments."
Next to Curry was power forward Jordan Murphy recording a fourth straight double-double. With 16 points and 15 rebounds which included a late putback slam Jordan was key to the victory once again.
"We're a really resilient group,” Murphy said. “A really confident group, as well. We know that we've been here before.
“We've made mistakes and we've had success, so we know that we can learn from our mistakes and can keep doing what makes us successful. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. You saw Dupree today. Eric Curry was terrific today. We have a lot of guys ready to go."
McBrayer scored 15 points highlighted by 7 of 8 foul shooting and it was only his second double figure scoring game since being moved from the starting line-up to the bench.
"Definitely got me going,” Dupree said. “I was being more aggressive, try to get to the basket, trying to get to the free throw line. It was starting to come more and more so I got confident more and more."
As a team Minnesota’s rebounding was maybe the biggest story. They won the battle of the boards 44-31 and only gave up three offensive boards to the Wolverines.
"We've been harping on it a lot,” said Pitino of the team rebounding. “I thought we set the tone early, and Murphy and Reggie were having their way down there and really rebounding the ball.
“It has become a little bit of our identity, and we're doing a good job there. The rebounds really got us going at the beginning of the game when our offense was not doing as well."
Next up for Minnesota is Maryland on Wednesday at 7:30. The game is at Maryland who is currently ranked 23rd.