8:00 PM ET, February 11, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Ben Johnson looked relieved as he walked into the Minnesota players' lounge to meet reporters on Wednesday night.For the first time in nine games, Johnson's Gophers won."Finally, we can come out here and talk about something positive," he said.Johnson scored 20 points and Kris Humphries had 20 points and 10 rebounds as Minnesota snapped its eight-game skid with an 81-78 victory over Michigan. Humphries and Aaron Robinson hit some crucial free throws in the final seconds as the Gophers held off the Wolverines in a frantic finish.Leading by three with 7.5 seconds to play, Adam Boone missed a pair of free throws, giving Michigan a last chance to avoid losing to the Big Ten's last-place team.But Dion Harris's 3-point attempt hit off the front of the rim and Minnesota (9-13, 1-9 Big Ten) escaped with its first Big Ten win.The scene was eerily familiar.Two weeks ago, the Gophers led Michigan State by three in the final seconds, only to see the game go to overtime on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and lose.Boone said many of his teammates told him they had flashes of Michigan State when Harris launched his shot."It looked short to me when it left his hand," he said.Jeff Hagen had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Gophers and Boone added 11 points.Minnesota had lost its first nine conference games for the first time in more than 70 years, but avoided a 10th with its most balanced offensive output of the season."That's what we need to carry over to next game, knowing how to win and finish games," Johnson said.Lester Abram and Daniel Horton each had 15 points for the Wolverines (13-7, 4-5). Bernard Robinson had 14 before fouling out with 5:58 to play.Michigan had won three of its previous four games, but they fell to 2-5 on the road."I'm not going to say effort was our problem, but more intensity," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "It's something we struggle with. We play good defense, but we need to learn how to downshift and turn it into offense."The Wolverines, who committed 19 turnovers, jumped ahead in the first half but lost the momentum on an early second-half surge by Minnesota.Humphries struggled early and the Gophers trailed by nine at halftime. But Minnesota's star freshman got going in the second half when his teammates fed him the ball down low. He hit consecutive layups and a dunk. Hagen added a layup to cut Michigan's lead to 47-44 at 16:47.Humphries tied the game at 59 with a 3-pointer at 9:28. Boone gave Minnesota its first lead of the second half with a three at 8:02 to put the Gophers up 62-61.Thanks to free-throw shooting, the Gophers built a 71-63 lead with nine unanswered points. Johnson gave Minnesota its biggest lead with a 3-pointer to make it 76-66 with 3:58 to play.Michigan crept back by holding Minnesota to a single field goal the rest of the way and outscoring the Gophers 10-2. Courtney Sims hit the first of two free throws to pull Michigan to 78-76 with 39.3 seconds left.But he missed the second and the Wolverines fouled Robinson, who sank two foul shots. Horton missed on Michigan's next possession and Humphries added another free throw.Sims had an easy dunk with 12 seconds to play before Boone went to the line.Amaker was most upset about his team's sloppy ball handling."You can't win on the road if you turn the ball over like we did," he said.Both teams looked sloppy in the early going, combining for 25 turnovers in the first half.Michigan took control by closing out the half with a 21-8 run. The Wolverines led by as many as many as 14 points in the first."During halftime I said this was a time to grow up," Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. "We need to quit worrying about our record. Use the next 20 minutes to get rid of our frustration."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
|» Feb 11, 2004||@MINN 81, MICH 78||Recap|