MINNEAPOLIS It seemed like the home team couldn”t miss a shot if it tried.
The Michigan basketball team forced 23 turnovers, but that wasn”t enough, as the Gophers shot their way to a 90-82 win.
One statistic told the whole story: The Wolverines allowed their opponent to shoot 81.8 percent (18-22) from the field in the second half. How can anyone put together an offensive showing like that?
“Coaching. All coaching,” said Minnesota coach Dan Monson, whose team scored 44 points in the paint. “Seriously, we got good shots we didn”t settle for the long jumper.”
Michigan senior Chris Young offered a different reason: “We just didn”t play any type of defense at all in the second half. It was that simple.”
Jerry Holman gave the Gophers a huge lift off the bench with 12 points and three blocks, but the real difference-maker was point guard Kevin Burleson. Burleson shared the team lead in scoring with Dusty Rychart, posting a season-high 19 points after entering the game averaging just 5.8 points per game.
LaVell Blanchard didn”t miss a shot until 11:21 remained in the game, scoring 17 points in a losing effort. Bernard Robinson led the team with 19 points.
“I thought Bernard did a good job on the whole,” Amaker said. “Anytime he is attacking, I love his shots. The only thing that really concerned me about his game tonight was the (six) turnovers.”
Michigan held a slim lead for three-fourths of the game. The Wolverines drew five offensive fouls in the first half and picked up 15 steals overall.
“I can”t remember a game where a team had that many steals,” Amaker said.
Despite allowing Minnesota to shoot better than 60 percent in the first half, the Wolverines took a 41-38 lead into the lockerroom. After Robinson completed a fast-break dunk with 11 minutes left, the Michigan offense went into hibernation. After a couple of wild shots and turnovers, Michigan found itself staring at a 14-point deficit (76-62).
But Michigan mounted a late rally to bring the score to 84-80 with one minute left to play. Freshman guard Dommanic Ingerson was instrumental in reviving the offense, hitting three treys in a two-and-a-half-minute span.
But Kerwin Fleming put the dagger in the Wolverines back, hitting a long 3-pointer early in the possession to extend the Gophers” lead to seven points.
Amaker was pleased with the effort that his young team showed by fighting back in such a hostile environment, but Blanchard could only feel frustration.
“Nice comebacks don”t mean anything when you don”t win,” Blanchard said.
For extended coverage of last night”s game, go online to michigandaily.com/sports