With their third comeback from a double-digit deficit on the road against Wisconsin on Thursday, the No. 18 Gophers answered that question, again.
Down by 12 against Colorado State on Nov. 22, the Gophers came back. Struggling at Iowa just last week, Minnesota turned a 13-point gap into a three-point win. At Madison, the Gophers were down by 14 points in the second half but came back to win by four points in overtime.
That ability to handle adversity away from home will not only help Minnesota earn its first NCAA bid in five seasons, but it should also help it weather a tough stretch with four of its next six games on the road.
Minnesota takes on a Northwestern squad that led Purdue by 14 Thursday night before faltering late and losing by two points.
Another tough road game for the Gophers? Maybe, but that tends to bring out the best in them.
MINNESOTA 78, WISCONSIN 74 (OT): Every sign pointed to the Gophers (16-1, 4-1 Big Ten) losing their 13th game in a row at Wisconsin (12-5, 3-2) on Thursday. They were down by 14 points in the second half, and Wisconsin led by 10 points with 4:43 to play.
Then, it happened. More like, Lawrence Westbrook happened. The Gophers junior scored a career-high 29 points. His 3-pointer with two seconds remaining in regulation sent the game into overtime.
His nine points in the extra period helped Minnesota earn its first road victory over the Badgers since 1994.
Tubby Smith called the win one of the biggest during his tenure.
Now that they know his language, the Gophers may be adding two more pieces to a deep and talented squad.
Minnesota's ability to mix and match defenses has frustrated early league opponents. A recent victim was Penn State, which was feeling pretty good after upsetting Purdue at home. Then the Gophers unplugged one of the conference's more potent attacks, holding both Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle under their scoring averages.
That wasn't nearly as impressive, though, as the performances turned in by the pair of JUCO transfers. As the conference season hits its stride, so too are Bostick and Carter, who combined for 33 points in the victory against Penn State.
"I've had junior college transfers over the years, and they all take awhile to understand the system," Smith said. "It's like going into a different class. The fundamentals are the same, but the terminology, the system, the offense and defense is different. It usually takes them half a year."
That puts Bostick and Carter right on pace. They entered the Jan. 15 game at Wisconsin averaging just eight points between them.
But those high expectations they entered with might be close to being realized. If that duo stays hot, the Gophers might just be the team to beat in the Big Ten.
IN FOCUS: If the Gophers don't experience a letdown from their dramatic win at Wisconsin, they should have no trouble on Sunday. The Wildcats have lost 28 of their last 29 Big Ten contests.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters — G Lawrence Westbrook, G Al Nolen, F Damian Johnson, F Ralph Sampson III, C Colton Iverson. Key Subs — G Blake Hoffarber, F Paul Carter, F Jamal Abu-Shamala, G/F Travis Busch, G Devoe Joseph, G Devron Bostick.
Minnesota 68, Ohio State 59
Minnesota 52, Iowa 49
Minnesota 79, Penn State 59
Minnesota 78, Wisconsin 74 (OT)
at Northwestern, Sunday, Jan. 18
vs. Purdue, Thursday, Jan. 22
at Indiana, Sunday, Jan. 25