Charles Buggs entered Tuesday night’s game against No. 20 Iowa having scored five points the entire season, but he was ready when his name was called.
The 6-foot-9 freshman scored eight straight points to spark a 24-8 first half run, finishing with 13, as Minnesota took control early and hung on late in a thrilling, 95-89 win over the Hawkeyes.
Austin Hollins finished with 27 points and Dre Mathiue adding 19 and seven assists for the Gophers, who picked up a massive win for the NCAA tournament profile. The Gophers had lost three of their last four and six of their last eight entering the night, playing themselves out of the NCAA tournament in the process. A win over Iowa at home will help them turn things around, but it’s not going to be enough to change the fortunes of their season.
Richard Pitino’s club needs to win at Michigan and avoid a loss at home to Penn State in the season finale to feel comfortable about their chances entering the Big Ten tournament.
If they shoot like they did on Tuesday, that won’t be a problem.
But some of that credit (blame?) has to fall on the shoulders of the Hawkeyes. Iowa was just plain horrible defensively for a 20 minute stretch on Tuesday. Minnesota scored on 13 straight possessions, totaling 30 points, to close out the final 7:48 of the first half, extending their lead to 80-67 with 8:30 left in the game. In less than one half of basketball, Iowa gave up 59 points to a Minnesota team that isn’t exactly known as an offensive powerhouse. That came three days after Wisconsin carved the Hawkeyes up in Iowa City.
Clearly, Iowa has some defensive kinks they need to work out.
I’m just not buying this team at this point. They have the talent, they have the computer profile, but they can’t close out games and if they continue to play defense the way they have of late, they don’t have the firepower to win.