MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- There was nothing pretty about Minnesota's
victory over Ohio State on Saturday, and that's just the way the
Gophers like it.
"It was a poster for our slogan this season -- get a game
ugly," coach Dan Monson said. "Some may think it was an ugly win,
but for us it was pretty."
Stamper tipped in a loose ball with 34.9 seconds left for a
51-50 lead, then chased down two rebounds on Ohio State's final two
possessions to preserve the victory and snap Minnesota's three-game
Terence Dials had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead Ohio
State, but he missed a nice look from about six feet that would
have given the Buckeyes the lead on the ensuing possession.
Stamper corralled the rebound after a frantic scramble under the
Buckeyes' basket and Aaron Robinson made one free throw to cap the
scoring for the Gophers (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten).
The Buckeyes (18-9, 7-6) had one more chance to tie or win the
game with 9 seconds to play. But J.J. Sullinger's off-balance
jumper in the lane was off the mark, and Stamper snatched the board
again as time ran out.
"At the end of the game, we know who is going to get the
rebound," Minnesota forward Brent Lawson said. "It's J'son
Stamper. That's not a surprise to us."
Stamper finished with four points and six rebounds, and Jeff
Hagen added 12 points and six rebounds for the Gophers, who
out-rebounded Ohio State 38-25.
"We went back down to our roots," Grier said. "We want to
make it an ugly game and win ugly. That's what we did."
Sullinger finished with eight points and nine rebounds for Ohio
State, which lost for just the second time in the last eight games.
The Gophers led by as many as 12 in the second half and had a
47-40 lead on a layup by Stamper with 6:34 to play.
But Minnesota went the next 5:59 without a field goal to let the
Buckeyes back in the game.
Dials converted a three-point play to pull the Buckeyes within
four, then Ivan Harris hit a 3-pointer to cut the Gophers' lead to
47-46 with 4:22 to go.
Dials made two free throws on the next possession for the
Buckeyes' first lead since 7-6 early in the first half and
Sullinger hit a jumper with 1 minute to play for a 50-49 lead.
"I'm proud of the way our guys fought back and put ourselves in
a position to win the game," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
But the Buckeyes just couldn't climb out of a big hole made by
poor shooting through the first 25 minutes.
Ohio State shot just 25 percent in the first half and yielded a
7-0 run to the Gophers to start the second to fall behind 31-19.
The win put the Gophers back on track for a run at their first
NCAA tournament berth in Monson's six seasons at the school.
"It helped us get out of that funk," Stamper said. "Losing
three games in a row was tough, so we had to do something quick."
They finish the season with a home game against Iowa and road
dates with Purdue and Penn State. Winning all three would put them
on solid ground with 20 wins.
The Buckeyes were playing without junior forward Matt Sylvester,
who served a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike behavior
toward a fan at Michigan State last week.
When asked how much the team missed Sylvester, who had a
career-high 17 points in an overtime loss to Minnesota on Jan. 19,
Matta said, "quite a bit. This was his type of game, a tight game
and he played well against Minnesota last time."