Gophers dig deep to upset No. 9 Badgers

MINNEAPOLIS -- With their best player injured in the opening moments, and despite a quiet game from center Elliott Elison, the Minnesota Gophers pulled off another upset Wednesday night at Williams Arena.

Maverick Ahanmisi
Badgers guard Bronson Koenig (right) passes around Gophers guard Maverick Ahanmisi in the first half Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. (Marilyn Indahl / USA Today, Reuters)

MINNEAPOLIS -- With their best player injured in the opening moments, and despite a quiet game from center Elliott Elison, the Minnesota Gophers pulled off another upset Wednesday night at Williams Arena.

With backup center Maurice Walker having a career game off the bench, with guard DeAndre Mathieu picking up all kinds of slack and with senior guard Austin Hollins waking up in the second half, the Gophers pulled off their second home upset in a week, downing the ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 81-68. It is their second upset in as many weeks. Minnesota downed Ohio State here last week.

Walker scored a career-high 18 points -- 14 in the first half -- and Mathieu also scored 18 for the Gophers (15-5 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten), who never trailed in the game while handing the slumping Badgers (16-3, 3-3) their third straight loss.

And this despite losing leading scorer, guard Andre Hollins, in the opening moments of the game. Hollins scored the game's first basket, then sprained his left ankle, leaving the game for good. And the Gophers also had an uncharacteristically quiet night from center Elliott Eliason, who did not score.

But Austin Hollins, scoreless in the first half, scored 11 points in the second, including a three-point play with 5:54 left that gave the Gophers a 66-54 lead. Guard Malik Smith scored 14 points.


The Badgers fought back. Down 12, forward Sam Dekker (20 points) scored inside, then guard Ben Brust (8 points) scored, was fouled and hit the free throw to pull Wisconsin within 66-59 with 4:39 left.

But Smith drove for a basket, then Mathieu fed forward Joey King for a score to push the lead back to 11 with 3:30 left.

Ultimately, the Gophers pulled away, holding the Badgers under 70 points for the first time in 10 games.

Even with Andre Hollins out of the picture, the Gophers spent almost the entire first half with the lead, taking a 34-28 lead into halftime, thanks to Walker and Osenieks.

With Badgers center Frank Kaminsky out with two fouls, Walker -- whose previous career high was 11 points last season -- came out firing, making 6 of 8 shots on the way to 14 points in the first half. He had a career-high 12 midway through the half.

With Walker scoring 14 and Osenieks seven, the Gophers led by as many as eight points, 28-20, on Osenieks' put-back dunk with 5:20 left.

The Badgers, who were led with seven points by both Dekker and Hayes, responded with an 8-2 run to pull within 30-28 on guard Bronson Koenig's 3-pointer. But Walker's dunk and Joey King's hook in the lane pushed the lead to six at the break.

  • Starting Minnesota G Andre Hollins, the team's leading scorer (16.3 ppg), left the game after hurting his left leg moments after making the game's first basket. Replays indicated Hollins may have turned his ankle.
  • Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had a 147-62 record in Big Ten play, a 70.3 winning percentage that is the best mark in history. r Wisconsin's offense is its most productive in 19 years. Wisconsin had scored 70 or more points in nine straight games entering the game.
  • This game ended a stretch in which the Gophers faced four straight teams ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press poll.
  • Minnesota entered the game leading the conference in steals per game (8.3) and field-goal percentage (75.0). WISCONSIN (68)

    Gasser 2-4 4-4 9, Brust 3-7 1-1 8, Dekker 6-12 7-8 20, Tv.Jackson 1-4 4-4 7, N.Hayes 5-7 2-5 12, B.Koenig 1-4 0-0 3, Kaminsky 4-8 1-1 9, Dukan 0-2 0-0 0, V.Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Z.Bohannon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-50 19-23 68.

    MINNESOTA (81)

    Mi.Smith 5-9 3-3 14, An.Hollins 1-1 0-0 2, D.Mathieu 8-13 0-0 18, Mu.Walker 6-11 6-6 18, Jy.King 3-4 0-0 7, Osenieks 4-4 1-1 9, Eliason 0-2 0-0 0, Ahanmisi 1-3 0-0 2, D.McNeil 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-56 11-11 81.

    Wisconsin 28 40 -- 68

    Minnesota 34 47 -- 81

    3-Point Goals Wisconsin 5-20 (Gasser 1-3, Tv.Jackson 1-3, Dekker 1-4, B.Koenig 1-4, Brust 1-5, Kaminsky 0-1), Minnesota 4-7 (D.Mathieu 2-2, Jy.King 1-1, Mi.Smith 1-4). Fouled out None. Rebounds Wisconsin 22 (Dekker 6), Minnesota 32 (Mu.Walker 9). Assists Wisconsin 8 (Tv.Jackson 3), Minnesota 16 (D.Mathieu, Au.Hollins, Mi.Smith, Ahanmisi 3). Total Fouls Wisconsin 14 (Dekker 4), Minnesota 21 (Osenieks, Eliason, D.Mathieu, Mu.Walker, D.McNeil 3). A--NA.

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