Sunday, January 27, 2002

Gophers shoot down No. 20 Bucks

Ohio State's winning streak ends at 9 games

The Associated Press

        MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota coach Dan Monson sent a message to two of his three co-captains who hadn't been playing well. They sat out the start of Saturday's game against No.20 Ohio State, but Travarus Bennett picked up the slack.

        Bennett scored a career-high 21 points as the Golden Gophers upset the Buckeyes 89-71, ending OSU's nine-game winning streak and giving it its first Big Ten loss in almost a year.

        “Travarus is the one guy who kind of had to take over when I challenged the captains,” Monson said. “We don't win without his effort.”

        Monson told point guard Kevin Burleson and forwards Michael Bauer and Dusty Rychart on Friday they might not start. He was unhappy with the example they had been setting for the rest of the team, which had lost two straight since a road victory against Purdue. Of the three, only Rychart started Saturday.

        “I couldn't sit all three of them — you've got to have some experience on the court,” Monson said. “I told them it's like disciplining my son. You've got to take some things away that really mean something. They really responded to that.”

        Rick Rickert had 19 points for the Golden Gophers (11-7, 4-3), who shot 9-for-15 from 3-point range and beat the Buckeyes for the first time in five games under Monson. Minnesota entered the game as the Big Ten's worst 3-point shooting team.

        “The threes came in a good context,” Monson said. “Going in and kicking out, instead of just passing around the 3-point line and jacking.”

        The Buckeyes (15-3, 6-1) were seventh in the nation in scoring defense entering the game (58.0) but allowed their highest point total this season.

        “This was not one of our defensive efforts, but I think more of the credit should go to them,” Buckeyes coach Jim O'Brien said of the Gophers. “... Usually if we can get 71 points, we'll have a good chance to win.”

        The Buckeyes lost for the first time in 14 conference games — dating to a 70-67 defeat to Indiana Jan.31.

        “We weren't ever thinking about going undefeated in the Big Ten,” said Brian Brown, who had 14 points. “We were just taking it one game at a time.”

        Sean Connolly led Ohio State with 17 points, including three 3-pointers down the stretch, and Brent Darby added 14 points.

        The Buckeyes trailed by 10 points early in the second half before a flurry of turnovers and fouls by Minnesota helped fuel a 21-2 OSU run.

        Second-half lapses by the Gophers have drawn the ire of Monson, who took a timeout to scream at his team during that stretch Saturday. Shortly after, Brown's baseline drive yielded a three-point play that put the Buckeyes up 54-46 with 14:15 left.

        But Minnesota tied the score with eight straight points and took a 65-61 lead with 8:22 remaining on a 3-pointer by Bennett. Jerry Holman swatted away Darby's 3- point attempt on the next possession.

        “We had that spark,” Brown said, “but we lost it and we never got it back.”

        Perimeter play on both ends of the court is the Buckeyes' biggest strength, but timely outside shooting by the Gophers kept Ohio State from creating any momentum in an intense first half.

        Minnesota was 7-for-11 on 3-pointers in the first half, and Bauer's 3 gave the Gophers their biggest lead of the half, 38-30 with 2:38 to go.

        Burleson made a backdoor pass to Holman for a dunk that made it 40-33 just before halftime. He justified Monson's decision to bench him by scoring six points and totaling nine assists against just one turnover.

        “We haven't been leading the team lately, especially me,” Burleson said. “Look what happened, we got a win.”

        OHIO STATE (15-3) — Williams 3-4 2-2 8, Radinovic 1-3 7-10 9, Darby 4-12 4-4 14, Brown 6-13 2-5 14, Savovic 1-4 2-3 4, Fuss-Cheatham 1-4 0-0 3, Connolly 6-8 1-2 17, Dials 1-4 0-1 2, Dudley 0-1 1-2 1, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 19-29 71.

        MINNESOTA (11-7) — Rickert 5-8 6-6 19, Holman 5-9 2-2 12, Rychart 4-5 1-2 10, Fleming 4-9 0-0 9, Bennett 6-6 6-6 21, Hargrow 2-3 2-2 6, Burleson 2-3 2-4 4, Esselink 0-0 0-0 0, Bauer 2-7 1-2 6. Totals 30-50 20-24 89.

        Halftime—Minnesota 40-33. 3-Point goals—Ohio State 6-17 (Connolly 4-6, Darby 2-6, Savovic 0-2, Brown 0-3). Minnesota 9-15 (Bennett 3-3, Rickert 3-4, Rychart 1-1, Fleming 1-2, Bauer 1-4, Burleson 0-1). Fouled out— Savovic. Rebounds—Ohio State 30 (Williams 5), Minnesota 27 (Bennett 7). Assists—Ohio State 14 (Brown 4), Minnesota 18 (Burleson 9). Total fouls—Ohio State 22, Minnesota 19. A—13,838.


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