Minnesota Gophers Basketball
Austin Hollins hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 46.1 seconds left and Minnesota won the NIT championship Thursday night, beating SMU 65-63 to give the Pitino family its latest postseason tournament title. Hollins scored 19 points and Andre Hollins had 14 for the Golden Gophers (25-13), who took home the trophy for the third time. They also won the National Invitation Tournament in 1993 and ’98, though the second one was vacated because of an NCAA rules violation involving player eligibility.
Keith Appling scored 24 points to help No. 5 Michigan State beat Minnesota 87-75 in overtime Saturday after overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half and blowing a lead late in regulation. The Spartans (15-1, 4-0 Big Ten) scored 15 straight points while holding the Golden Gophers (13-4, 2-2) scoreless for nearly 8 minutes after trailing 53-43 with 15:57 left. Michigan State missed an opportunity to win in regulation for the second straight game, losing a five-point lead in the last 13 seconds.
For middle-of-the-pack programs like Minnesota, the Big Ten schedule is always daunting. Well, the Gophers have rarely seen a stretch like the one they’re about to begin. Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 20, including three in the top five, of the Associated Press poll. Those four teams also happen to be Minnesota’s next four opponents. The Gophers play at No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. They host No. 3 Ohio State next Thursday. They travel to No. 20 Iowa for a game on Jan. 19. They have No. 4 Wisconsin visiting on Jan. 22.