Minnesota's Hot Hands End Wolverines' Big Ten Streak

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The University of Michigan basketball team ran into a red-hot shooting Minnesota team on Wednesday (Jan. 9), and despite a late surge the Wolverines could not surmount the Golden Gophers' 81.8 percent shooting from the field in the second half, falling 90-82.

The Maize and Blue were led by Bernard Robinson Jr.'s (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]) 19-point, four-rebound performance and LaVell Blanchard's (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) 17-point output. The Gophers' Kevin Burleson's 19 points and clutch three-point shooting gave Minnesota the advantage down the stretch. Michigan also had no answer for Dusty Rychart, who chipped in 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field.

Michigan (6-6, 2-1 Big Ten) won the tip, allowing Blanchard to open scoring with a three-pointer from the right wing. Following a missed turnaround hook shot in the low post, Robinson Jr. connected on his first shot of the game, giving the Wolverines an early 5-2 lead.

The Gophers (9-5, 2-1 Big Ten) then scored five straight points on a backdoor layup by Rick Rickert and a three-pointer by Burleson to take their first lead of the game, 7-5. The Maize and Blue then tied the game at seven when Leon Jones (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep. [Mass.]) grabbed a defensive rebound, raced down the court and dished the ball over to Blanchard, who slammed the ball home.

A deep three-point basket by Michael Bauer gave the Gophers a 10-7 advantage, but the Wolverines tied at the game 12-12 when Gavin Groninger (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS) connected on a triple from the left corner. Following a steal by Young, Groninger drew a foul on another three-point attempt, giving him three shots from the foul line. Groninger connected on all three to put Michigan up by three.

Rychart's five straight points re-established the Gophers' lead, however Michigan responded with a 12-4 run over the next three minutes to put the Wolverines up 27-21. The run was highlighted by three-point baskets by Queen and Jones, in addition to two successful free throws by Blanchard.

Minnesota answered the Maize and Blue run with a 6-0 run of their own, tying the game at 27. Groninger gave the Wolverines a 30-27 lead at 6:47 when he connected on his second three-pointer of the game from the right wing.

After Minnesota re-took a one-point lead, freshman Chuck Bailey (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS) made sure the Wolverines would not trail for the balance of the half as he grabbed his own rebound and scored on a floater in the lane. As the half wound down, Bailey answered a mid-range Rychart jumper with a last-second tipin of Robinson miss to give the Wolverines a 41-38 halftime lead.

Burleson opened the second half's scoring when he got his own rebound following a Young block and hit a jump shot from the right block. Blanchard scored Michigan's first points in the second half when he connected on a three-point basket from left wing to give the Wolverines a 44-40 lead.

Following a Blanchard goaltending call at 17:30 and a Jones free throw that pushed the Wolverine lead to 48-45, Bauer hit a long two-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to one. Robinson gave the Wolverines a three-point lead, 50-47, driving into the lane and slamming the ball home at 15:46.

Minnesota took its first lead since early in the first half with a 6-0 run that made it 53-50 and did not look back. The run was highlighted by turnaround jumpers by Jerry Holman and Rychart. Young ended the Gopher run with a pair of free throws to bring the Wolverines within one, 53-52.

The two teams traded baskets over the next three minutes to bring the score to 59-58 in favor of the Gophers. Minnesota was propelled by Burleson's two three-pointers en route to a 13-2 run that made the score 72-60.

A Young dunk at 7:20 made the score 72-62, but the Gophers scored four straight points to bring the score to 76-62. Ingerson connected on his second three-pointer of the game and Robinson Jr. hit a pair of free throws to make the scored 76-67.

Following a Burleson turnaround jumper the Wolverines went on an 8-1 run, highlighted by pair of Ingerson three-pointers, to draw within four at 79-75. Three free throws by the Gophers put Minnesota back up by seven and ended the burgeoning comeback attempt.

After the two teams traded free throws, Robinson Jr. connected on a three-point play to bring the score to 84-80, but Kerwin Fleming gave the Gophers a seven-point lead with a long three-point field goal with 55 seconds left. Following a Fleming a free throw, Robinson Jr. ended Michigan's scoring on a layup with 17 seconds remaining. Burleson capped the scoring with a pair of free throws to give the Gophers a 90-82 victory.

The Wolverines will continue the Big Ten season on the road when the Maize and Blue heads to Champaign, Ill., Saturday (Jan. 12), to take on No. 9 Illinois at Assembly Hall. Tipoff is slated for 3:37 p.m. CST.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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