The Minnesota Gophers welcomed the Iowa Hawkeyes into an empty Williams Arena tonight for one of only four college basketball games being played on Christmas Day across the nation. I think Pitino and Co would have happily given up their holiday dinner plans for a top-5 victory.
The Gophers played really well for most of this game and held a lead for almost the entire first half. The second half was a struggle at times and it looked like the Hawkeyes were going to slip away with a W… but then late-game free throws and Marcus Carr’s stones ruined Iowa’s Christmas.
Overtime is Brandon Johnson time
Richard Pitino recruited three transfers from around the country to help add depth and talent to a Gopher basketball team that badly needed both. The quietest of the three was Brandon Johnson, who grad-transferred from Western Michigan with just one year of eligibility left.
He can shoot the three… but that’s not why Pitino recruited him from WM. On Friday night, however, something happened to Johnson from deep. Brandon hit FOUR 3-pointers in a row to start OT, which singlehandedly outscored Iowa 12-5 in the first 3:15 of OT.
In total, Johnson was 8/9 from 3-point-land on Christmas night and scored 26 points in total. That’s three points shy of his career high, which came last year vs Ball State (29). His EIGHT makes from deep is by far the most of his career, which was previously capped at THREE.
Oh… and then 7’1″ center, Liam Robbins, hit the DEEP dagger to finish it. Some nights things just don’t make sense. The Minnesota BTN Twitter account didn’t even know Johnson’s last name.
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) December 26, 2020
This is a massive signature win for the Minnesota Gophers and makes them a player in the deepest conference in college basketball. With an 8-1 record and victories over Saint Louis and Iowa in their last two games, the Gophers should definitely be ranked when the Top-25 polls update on Monday.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan