Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Big Game 1-4-12: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory X 2

Wow. Ouch. Sh**. What a night. The Gophers and Timberwolves both went into the deep freeze at crucial points, blew hard-won leads and lost eminently winnable games on their home courts.

Memphis Grizzlies 90 Minnesota Timberwolves 86

The Wolves missed 11-of-their-first-12 shots and fell behind 8-0 and 18-3. They caught up at 43-43 in the 3rd and led by as many as 5 at 54-49 in the 3rd and 68-63 in the 4th. Surely a team that can handle Dallas and San Antone could hold on against the Grizzlies.

But no. The Wolves missed their next 6 FG and 4 straight FT, turned the ball over twice and committed a flagrant foul. By then they'd been out-scored 13-0 to trail 76-68. Twice, they got within 2 and had the ball but they turned it over and then missed the shot with 1 tick left on the clock.

Kevin Love had 27 points and 14 boards. Michael Beasley shot 5-of-16 for 11 points, and committed 5 turnovers including that crucial one at crunch time. The Wolves' 2s, Wes Johnson and Wayne Ellington, shot 1-of-9 for 2 points.

Iowa Hawkeyes 64 Minnesota Gophers 62

As dispiriting as the Wolves' loss was, it was nothin' compared to what Tubby Smith's Gophers did. Leading Iowa 32-21 late in the 1st half, Minnesota missed 4 shots on 2 possessions and turned the ball over 3 times. A turnover by Austin Hollins at :06 led to an Iowa fast-break basket that brought the Hawks within 32-31. With that kind of momentum (Iowa's) and ineptitude (Minnesota's), Iowa clearly would not be denied, and they were not.

Iowa took is 1st lead since 5-4 at 40-38 and led by as much as 58-51. The Gophers had a chance to tie or win at the final buzzer but Maverick Ahanmisi missed a 3.

Minnesota made 4-of-23 3s, but kept hoisting them up there instead of 2s that they could make (22-of-35, 62%). As a result, they shot 10 FT, making 6. Pitiful.

Some declared moral victories in close losses at 12-3 Illinois and 12-2 Michigan. Now somebody's got to declare, If you can't beat 9-6 Iowa at home, who exactly can you beat? Purdue at home? Doubtful. At Indiana? No? OK, now you're 0-5. Then you're at Penn State and Northwestern at home. A couple winnable games. If not, you're 0-7 and well on the way to 0-18. Seriously.

Player of the Day

Taylor Sheley of the Bethel women had 20 points, 6 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals but it was not enough to prevent the Royals from taking their 1st loss in MIAC conference play to St. Ben's 66-56, and relinquishing a piece of 1st place.

Coach of the Day

Dave Stromme of the St.Olaf women who hammered Concordia (Moorhead) 66-51 to take over 4th place in the MIAC at 5-2.

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