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Marcus R. Fuller / St. Paul Pioneer Press, Published March 01 2014

Gophers fall to Michigan in Ann Arbor

By Marcus R. Fuller

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After upsetting Iowa earlier in the week, Richard Pitino made sure to temper the Gophers’ expectations for making the NCAA tournament.

The first-year Minnesota coach was, of course, thrilled with beating a third ranked team at home this season and getting back on the NCAA bubble.

But Pitino emphasized that the tournament was never his goal at the beginning of the year. He didn’t want this season to be considered a failure if it didn’t happen.

Minnesota likely could have solidified a bid Saturday night, but a comeback effort fell short in a 66-56 loss to No. 16 Michigan at Crisler Arena.

“We know there’s a lot of basketball left,” Pitino said. “We’ve got to get better this week and then get excited about the Big Ten tournament.”

The Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) clinched a share of the Big Ten title after Michigan State was upset at home earlier in the day by Illinois, not an entirely shocking result considering this unpredictable Big Ten season.

The Gophers (18-12, 7-10) led by six points with 10 minutes left in the first half, but Michigan went on a 22-5 run to take a 31-20 halftime lead. Minnesota committed seven turnovers in the run.

Senior captain Austin Hollins, who scored a career-high 27 points against Iowa, got off to a slow start with just two of his 16 points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half.

Junior point guard DeAndre Mathieu also had no field goals in the first half, coming off a 19-point performance against the Hawkeyes.

But Hollins and Mathieu combined for 15 of their team’s first 17 points in the second half to lead the fight back from a 10-point deficit.

Andre Hollins, who had 10 points in the run, scored five straight points, including two free throws after a questionable blocking foul on Jordan Morgan, to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 48-46 with 7:22 left.

Michigan’s Glen Robinson III scored consecutive baskets, including his second highlight-reel, alley-oop dunk of the night, to bring the crowd to its feet.

Minnesota responded again, with Mo Walker muscling in a three-point play to get the Gophers within 54-52 three minutes later.

But the Wolverines, who made nine three-pointers in the game, got a basket from Jordan Morgan to spark a clinching 10-2 run.

A three-pointer by Spike Albrecht gave Michigan a 64-54 lead with a minute left.

“We control our own destiny,” Austin Hollins said. “We’re capable of making it into the NCAA tournament. We’re capable of making a run. We’ve just got to work that much harder to get it done.”

MINNESOTA (56): An.Hollins 3-10 2-2 10, D.Mathieu 4-9 1-2 9, Au.Hollins 6-12 2-2 16, Eliason 4-5 0-2 8, Jy.King 0-3 0-0 0, Buggs 1-1 0-0 3, Mu.Walker 3-4 2-3 8, Mi.Smith 0-3 0-0 0, D.McNeil 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-48 7-11 56.

MICHIGAN (66): Stauskas 7-13 2-2 21, LeVert 5-13 2-2 13, Robinson III 6-10 0-0 12, Jr.Morgan 2-3 1-3 5, Albrecht 2-3 2-2 7, D.Walton 3-5 0-0 8, Z.Irvin 0-3 0-0 0, Horford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-50 7-9 66.

Minnesota 20 36 — 56

Michigan 31 35 — 66

3-Point Goals: Minnesota 5-18 (Au.Hollins 2-6, An.Hollins 2-6, Buggs 1-1, Jy.King 0-1, D.Mathieu 0-1, Mi.Smith 0-3), Michigan 9-23 (Stauskas 5-8, D.Walton 2-4, Albrecht 1-2, LeVert 1-5, Robinson III 0-1, Z.Irvin 0-3). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Minnesota 27 (D.Mathieu 7), Michigan 28 (Jr.Morgan 10). Assists: Minnesota 10 (D.Mathieu 5), Michigan 14 (LeVert 5). Total Fouls: Minnesota 15 (Mu.Walker 4), Michigan 14 (Jr.Morgan, D.Walton 3). A—12,707.