The University of Minnesota men's basketball team (8-4, 0-1) lost 76-70 to Illinois (11-1, 1-0) today at Williams Arena. With 2:37 to play, Maurice Hargrow tied up the game at 67 making two free throws. But, a three-pointer from Sean Harrington at 2:23 gave the lead back to Illinois and Minnesota was unable to come back after that.
Minnesota had just 10 turnovers, it's fewest since the second game of the season. But, they were unable to overcome a terrible shooting night. The Golden Gophers shot just 35 percent making just 18-of-59 field goal attempts. Minnesota was able to stay in the game with some fantastic free throw shooting. The Gophers hit a season-best 85.3 percent from the line making 29-of-34 attempts.
The Maroon and Gold started the second half trailing by just three points. They fought as the deficit grew to six before going on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 42 at the 15:52 point. But, they were unable to hold the lead when Harrington connected for three consecutive three-pointers to give Illinois a five-point lead. Illinois held the lead until Hargrow's two free throws and a 7-2 Gopher run at 2:37 tied up the game at 67. Minnesota was unable to continue their scoring streak as Illinois went on a 9-3 run to gain the 76-70 win.
In a see-saw first half, Minnesota took a 31-29 lead with 2:57 left on an Aaron Robinson jumper. Illinois quickly rebounded with a 7-2 run to end the half capped by a Harrington three to lead 36-33 at the intermission.
Minnesota was led by Michael Bauer who came off the bench scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Rick Rickert added 12 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out with 25 seconds remaining in the game. Hargrow pitched in an additional 10 points all of which came off free throws.
Brian Cook was the game's eading scorer with 25 points and rebounder with 11 boards. Harrington added 22 points including six three-pointers.
Next up for Minnesota is Wisconsin on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in Madison, Wis.
The Gophers are 3-1 in Big Ten home openers under Dan Monson. Minnesota won last year's home opener over Michigan State 70-67 on Jan. 5, 2002...Illinois leads the all-time series 102-60, including vacated games. Minnesota leads the series in Minneapolis 43-37...M ichael Bauer had two blocks, marking the sixth time in 12 games that he has had at least two blocks...R ick Rickert had a season-high four assists...S tan Gaines had career-highs in free throw attempts (4) and free throws made (3)...J erry Holman fouled out for the third time this season and the first time since the first two games of the season...J eff Hagen fouled out for the first time in his career...R ick Rickert fouled out for the second time this season and the fifth time in his career...Bauer scored in double-figures for the eighth time this season and 40th time in his career... Rick Rickert scored in double-figures for the fourth consecutive game, eighth time this season and 30th time in 42 career games...Bauer moved into seventh place all-time in career three-point field goals made with 101, surpassing Arriel McDonald ('91-'94), who had 100...Bauer attempted a career-high 10 three-point field goals...All 10 of Maurice Hargrow's points came at the free-throw line as he was a perfect 10-10. Hargrow has made 27 of his last 32 free throw attempts...Hargrow scored in double figures for the 11th time in 12 games this season and the 12th time in his career...Minnesota shot a season-low 31 percent from the field...Minnesota shot a season-best 85.3 percent from the free throw line (29-34)...Minnesota had only 10 turnovers, the fewest since having 10 against Georgia in the second game of the season...Minnesota is 2-4 when trailing at the half.
Dan Monson - Minnesota Head Coach
"I am proud of the way we played tonight. It is still early in the season, but we have to especially win at home if we want to contend for a Big Ten title."
"There is a difference between loosing and getting beat. Loosing is unacceptable and in the four games in which we've come up short, Oregon and Illinois are the two in which we were beat. We met every goal set for the game except two and I think that is a great accomplishment for any team."
"I have to give Illinois credit for their defensive effort, but we have to be able to make shots from the perimeter if we want to win close games. We took care of the ball with our rebounding and committing only 10 turnovers. I feel good about where we are going and we have eight days to continue to work hard before we head to Wisconsin."
"There was a key stretch in which we lost control and allowed Sean Harrington to shoot three perimeter shots in less than one minute. I am proud of our demeanor and toughness that was shown throughout the game. We had a couple of guys who fouled out, but we need aggressive players that are willing to step up and take it for the team. They helped set the tone."
Bill Self - Illinois Head Coach
"This is a huge win for us no matter what. Minnesota is not going to drop too many games in this building, if any more at all this year. We are fortunate to come out of this with a win. We played well, but we missed some shots. Our free throw shooting at the end there was causing us trouble. The way we won this game made it bigger."
"Our defense was not great, but we rebounded the heck out of the ball. They got some good looks, fortunately they didn't make some shots."
"It is a relief to win the first game (of the Big Ten season). Not so much to get it out of the way, for standing-wise. I think we have one of the toughest conference schedules for the Big Ten."
On toughing up the team
"We are not where we need to be, but this game is definitely a step in the right direction. We are fortunate to win a game like this. We got a break."
Minnesota Guard Kevin Burleson
"We played our hearts out tonight. We were tough on defense, held our own on the boards and had the intensity level needed to win in the Big Ten. The only things that went wrong is that the shots didn't fall the last five minutes and we lost [Sean] Harrington too many times. He really hurt us."
"We were confident coming into this game that we were going to win. We felt we needed to defend our home court, which is crucial in the Big Ten. And even though we lost, I'm proud of the way this team competed. There were a lot of times in the second half that were could have folded, but we never did and still had a chance to win with five minutes to play. We can take some consolation in that."
Minnesota Guard Ben Johnson
"Coach always tells us that if we're going to lose, it's going to be because of our shooting. That was exactly the case tonight. We had all the necessary parts of the game at the level needed to be in the Big Ten. If a few of our shots would have fallen, it would have been a whole other ball game."