Gophers Complete Collapse, Fall To Penn State, 66-63

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Hoffarber's Senior Day Effort Not Enough As Gophers Lose Again

Blake Hoffarber did what he could in his last regular season day as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but it wasn't enough to even slow the collapse that the Gopher basketball team has gone through over the past two months.

The Gophers again had a lead with less than three minutes to go, but. . .well, I'll let the folks from The Daily Gopher explain it.

Minnesota battled back to tie it and even take the lead on a Blake Hoffarber three-point play (the old fashioned kind) 56-57 with under three minutes to go.  But we all know how late leads work out for us.  Here was the sequence of events over the final 2:40.

  • Blake Hoffarber put the Gophers ahead with a three-point play 56-57
  • Talor Battle hits a HUGE fade-away three over the top of a jumping Ralph Sampson 59-57
  • Hoffarber hits a two to tie 59-59
  • Jeff Brooks hits a three 62-59
  • Rodney makes 1 FT, Minnesota gets the ball on a tip out of bounds 62-60
  • Ralph Sampson airballs a three.
  • Tim Frazier makes two free throws 64-60
  • Hoffarber three 64-63 13.8 remaining
  • Battle makes two free throws 66-63 10.5
  • Hoffarber misses a deep three.

There is a lot to pick apart in there but it comes down to having a great shooter, no reliable playmakers and a power forward who disappeared in the final minutes.  It is hard to fault Mbakwe as late game situations are tough on post players and it isn't really his strength.  Hoffarber is a very clutch shooter but he can only do so much when everyone watching the game knows he's going to be the one shooting it. 

This team limps into the Big Ten Tournament with a third game against Northwestern looming.  Maybe Al Nolen returns to give this team some life and some much needed playmaking ability.  But I think that even if he returns it will be too little and too late.  When asked if he thinks this team is capable of making another run in the Big Ten Tournament like they did a year ago Tubby shook his head and said..."We've got a long way to go."

And he's right. . .they do.

Minnesota will face Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament next week. We'll have the brackets for the tournament here at SB Nation Minnesota in the next day or so.


Gophers Conclude Regular Season Against Penn State

The Minnesota Golden Gophers' season has disintegrated in front of our eyes, as the team has gone from a 16-4 record and being ranked in the Top 15 in the country to now being 17-12 and having no chance at all of reaching the NCAA Tournament, short of a miracle run through the Big Ten Tournament next week.

The Gophers have won only once in their last nine games, and they'll attempt to salvage a bit of pride today as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions at the Barn this afternoon. When these two teams met last month in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions triumphed over the Gophers by a score of 66-63.

It's Senior Day today for the Gophers, and the only healthy senior on the Gophers roster right now is guard Blake Hoffarber. Hoffarber has struggled recently, but he'll certainly want to end his career on a high note. The only other senior on the roster is point guard Al Nolen, who hasn't played in a couple of months but hopes to be ready for the Big Ten tournament.

You can watch today's game on the Big Ten Network if it is offered in your area. Tip-off is scheduled for noon Central time from Minneapolis.


Gophers Tournament Hopes Really, Really Gone With 68-57 Loss

For a while there, it looked like the Gophers might have had a chance to keep their slim. . .very slim. . .NCAA tournament hopes alive. They were on the road against a Northwestern team that they were entirely capable of beating, and they went into the locker room with a 31-25 halftime lead.

By the time there were thirteen minutes left in the game, the lead had expanded to ten at 41-31.

From there, the Gophers proceeded to get outscored 37-16 and wound up going from a double-digit lead to a double-digit loss quicker than you can say, "Man, has this team ever been awful since Al Nolen went down."

Trevor Mbakwe was the only Golden Gopher to score in double figures with his 14 points. Freshman point guard Maverick Ahanmisi was awful, shooting 3-for-10 on the evening and finishing with seven points. Blake Hoffarber managed to be worse, going 2-for-9 and finishing with 5.

For Northwestern, they had four players in double figures, led by guards Michael Thompson and Alex Marcotullio and their 18 points each.

There can't possibly be anybody left in America that thinks that the Minnesota Golden Gophers are even remotely deserving of an NCAA tournament berth. . .and, short of pulling off a miraculous win in the Big Ten's post-season tournament, they're not going to be there. After tonight's loss, they're now ninth in the Big Ten Conference, and if the tournament started today, they'd play Northwestern again for the right to get pummeled by Ohio State.

For more of the aftermath of this one, be sure to check out our friends at The Daily Gopher.

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