Despite a late second-half scare, the Golden Gopher men's basketball team (15-7, 7-4) walked away from Evanston, Ill. with a 73-61 win over the Northwestern Wildcats (10-13, 2-10) today. Minnesota only allowed 15 points in the first half holding a 35-15 lead over the Wildcats going into the second half. Northwestern battled through the second half outscoring the Gophers 46-38 and bringing Minnesota's lead to just five with 2:26 remaining in the game. The Gophers then closed the game with an 11-4 run to earn the victory.
The Maroon and Gold started the game off strong holding Northwestern to just 15 points - six field goals and two free throws - in the first half. The Gophers held them without a single point for the first 6:31 of the game. Minnesota's defense was strong with 26 rebounds and three blocks compared to 13 and one from Northwestern in the first half.
Northwestern committed 10 turnovers in the first half and shot a meager 26 percent, 6-of-23, from the field. Minnesota shot 39 percent on 13-of-33 from the field. The Gophers only allowed Northwestern two offensive rebounds and no second chance points in the half.
In the second half, Northwestern gained some offensive momentum outscoring Minnesota 46-38. The Gophers led by as many as 27 at the 16:56 mark in the second half. However, Northwestern got hot in the following 14 minutes outscoring Minnesota 40-18 and cutting the lead to five with just 2:26 left to play. Northwestern capitalized on 15 second-half offensive rebounds allowing them 17 second chance points, all in the second half.
In the final minutes, the Gophers had an 11-4 run of their own and finished off the Wildcats with a 73-61 victory. Minnesota has won five of the last six meetings with Northwestern.
Rick Rickert was key for Minnesota recording his fourth career double-double - 22 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Burleson was strong with 12 points going 10-of-12 from the line, four rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Maurice Hargrow added 16 points and five rebounds.
Jitim Young had 18 points and six rebounds for Northwestern and Jason Burke added 11 points and six rebounds.
Minnesota will face Penn State (6-16, 1-10) Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8:00 p.m. in Williams Arena.