The Minnesota Golden Gophers weren't expected to be able to compete with the Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. The young team did that and more despite playing without their only senior on Thursday afternoon, though, rallying to defeat the Wildcats with an overtime victory.
The No. 10 seed in the tournament ended their season six losses in seven games, but picked up a huge win over the No. 7 seed to force a game with the Michigan Wolverines at 5:30 on Friday.
The Gophers trailed quite a bit in the second half, but were able to tie the game when Andre Hollins made jumper to tie the game at 61 points at the end of regulation. Both teams had a pair of possessions to break the tie, but neither was able to and the game went to overtime.
Andre Hollins was huge for the Gophers, taking on a leadership role since the team's only senior was missing as Ralph Sampson III was out due to a knee injury he suffered in practice earlier in the week. The 6-foot-1 freshman point guard scored 16 points in the first half on the way to 25 points including five 3-pointers. Though three other players finished with double figures for the Gophers, it was Sampson's replacement -- Elliot Eliason -- who was most crucial for the Gophers as he pulled down 11 big rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
Northwestern went ice cold to end the game, but JerShon Cobb and John Shurna both played very well for the Wildcats with 24 and 21 points respectively. Nobody else scored in double figures for Northwestern, however, leading to the loss.