MINNEAPOLIS: Jacob Young had 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds to help Rutgers hold off Minnesota for a 77-70 victory Saturday in overtime to finish the regular season.
Myles Johnson added nine points and 15 rebounds and Geo Baker and Montez Mathis scored 12 points apiece for the Scarlet Knights (14-10, 10-10 Big Ten), who took a critical step toward solidifying the programs first NCAA Tournament invitation since 1991.
Brandon Johnson had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the banged-up Gophers (13-14, 6-14), who lost their seventh straight game to put the job of eighth-year head coach Richard Pitino in jeopardy.
Young hit a jumper on the first possession of overtime to help get Rutgers re-centered after squandering a 14-point second-half lead. The Scarlet Knights were ahead for the entire extra period. Tre’ Williams went to the line for Minnesota with 1:51 left and a three-point deficit, but he missed both foul shots. With the Gophers still within one score at 73-70, Marcus Carr went hard to the basket in heavy traffic but missed his layup with 1:07 remaining.
Carr, who had 84 points over the previous three games, finally scored with 3:32 left in regulation on a pair of free throws that cut the lead to 61-57. With 50 seconds to go, he swished the tying 3-pointer right in front of his teams bench as he stared back in celebration. Carr finished with seven points on 1-for-13 shooting, with seven rebounds.
With the family members of the Gophers making as much noise as they could in the otherwise-empty arena by cheering and banging on their maroon chairs, they hustled and muscled their way back in the game even after a 3-pointer by Ron Harper Jr. put Rutgers up by double digits again at 61-51 at the 5:56 mark.
The Scarlet Knights notched their first win in five visits to Minnesota since joining the Big Ten in 2014. They’re 6-6 against the Gophers as a member of the conference, their most wins against any opponent in the league.
Rutgers: Coming off an ugly 21-point loss at Nebraska five days ago that put them further onto the bubble than they would prefer, the Scarlet Knights endured more rough stretches of play but managed to come through down the stretch. They surely would have made the NCAA Tournament last year at 20-11 overall and 11-9 in conference play, but the onset of the pandemic abruptly ended their season before they even got a Big Ten Tournament game in.
Minnesota: Despite starters Gabe Kalscheur (broken finger, sixth straight game) and Liam Robbins (sprained ankle, fourth game in a row) sidelined again and Johnson (sprained ankle) and Both Gach (sore foot) playing through lingering injuries, the Gophers were more competitive than they’ve been over the last several weeks. Fifth-year senior Eric Curry played his final home game and fouled out with four points and five rebounds.
Rutgers: Gets to rest until Thursday for the second round of the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis, as either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed, depending on results from other games around the league this weekend. The Scarlet Knights will face either Michigan State or Indiana.
Minnesota: Relegated to the first round of the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers will play Wednesday against Northwestern in the No. 12-No. 13 game.
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