Minnesota comes into Saturday's game playing some of its best ball.
The Golden Gophers have dealt with their own injury problems inside, with redshirt sophomore Eric Curry missing the rest of the season with a right foot injury suffered February 28 against Northwestern, and redshirt senior Matz Stockman questionable to play Saturday after suffering a concussion March 15 against Purdue.
The Cardinals employed a full-court press to continue to claw back into the game, cutting the U's lead to 76-69 with two minutes left. In a 76-49 loss to MI last Saturday in the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers went 2-of-12 from deep. The Gophers aren't going to score with the ease they did against Louisville and the Spartans can expect improved shooting today.
Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-11, 250-pound senior, had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Minnesota shot just 2-of-22 from three-point range for the game after going 11-of-27 from the perimeter in the win over Louisville.
Not having Murphy healthy was entire the difference for the Gophers, despite causing 22 Michigan State turnovers. But that was as close as Louisville would get. He was quickly subbed out and was in tears as he embraced his coaches and teammates. His team beat the Gophers for the second time this season, following up a 79-55 victory on February 9 in East Lansing, Michigan, and made it to the second weekend of the tournament for the first time in four years, an eternity by MSU standards. Tremont Waters finished with 15 points, but had just two after the break. However, the coach said White hurt a hamstring in the ACC championship game and will not play against the Bison. "This is nice that I have this, but we're going to have to get onto the next game". I think the Izzo noise will actually be a rallying point for this team and make them stronger.
The Golden Gophers will make their second NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Richard Pitino after finishing with a 21-13 record (9-11 in Big Ten), their second-highest win total in the last five seasons.
The eight teams the Big Ten put in the tournament were the most in its history, as well as the most of any conference this season. He was shut down by a tough and physical Michigan State defense, but the Gophers were a much better team since then while in the midst of a four-game losing streak. He played well in three Big Ten Tournament games, averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals.
Christen Cunningham led Louisville (20-14) with 22 points, and Steven Enoch added 14. Suddenly, the Gophers were building momentum after Coffey's two free throws capped an 8-0 run to cut it to 40-31 with 14:42 to play.
Mays was one of four Tigers in double figures.
The last NCAA Tournament win for the Gophers was when Tubby Smith's team defeated UCLA in Austin, Texas, in 2013.