It hasn’t been easy being Minnesota lately.
Once a promising contender for the Big Ten championship, the Golden Gophers slid into mediocrity in a rugged conference where there isn’t much room for that.
But Minnesota found a ray of hope Thursday night, earning a quality, hard-fought 58-53 overtime win over Wisconsin.
The Golden Gophers needed the win badly, needed it the way living things need air to breathe, and they managed to prevail.
Andre Hollins saved the day for the Golden Gophers. He lit up the Badgers for 21 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the extra session, and left quite an impression on head coach Tubby Smith.
“He’s asked to do a lot. Handle the ball. Score for us. Defending the opposing team’s quickest player, usually, Smith said in a post-game press conference. “He’s really growing up and doing a lot of good things. That’s what it’s all about.”
Minnesota is 18-7 overall but just 6-6 in the Big Ten. Its dreams of a conference title have been wiped away by inconsistent stretches of basketball this season and all the Golden Gophers can do now is hope this win is the spark they so desperately need.
The Golden Gophers are still good enough to make a run at the conference tournament championship and are certainly capable of having a successful run in the NCAA tournament.
Only time will tell if the win over Wisconsin gets this team back on track, but one thing is for sure, a loss was something the Golden Gophers could not afford against the Badgers.
”They wanted it. But we had to have it,” Smith said in a post-game press conference.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.