Still Undefeated Gophers MBB Ace Toughest Test to Date

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team won yet again on Sunday afternoon, in what was easily their most difficult test of the season, at Mississippi State. Not only were the Bulldogs picked to finish in the top half of the SEC this season, but they came into the matchup with a 6-1 record, beating all of their lesser competition by big margins.

But the Gophers were unfazed. Not only did they go into the south and beat Mississippi in their own gym, but they did it with relative ease. Minnesota jumped out to a 16-2 lead before the Bulldogs realized the game had started. While they didn’t hold that kind of lead throughout, it was Mississippi State who had to scratch and claw just to remain within striking distance.

Gopher clutch gene

Big shot by guys like Payton Willis, Jamison Battle, EJ Stephens and Eric Curry continued to fall whenever they were most needed. Every time the Bulldogs got their own clutch shot to fall, it was to pull them within a possession or two. But the Minnesota Gophers never let Mississippi State get over that hump.

Even after a grand finale comeback that tied the game with less than one minute to play, the maroon and gold answered. When the dust settled, it was a 81-76 Golden Gopher victory.

Tests Get Tougher, Results Stay the Same (so far)

I’ve already written a couple of these blogs on Ben Johnson’s Gophers but each one becomes more impressive. Was it surprising to see them beat Princeton and Western Kentucky on their way to winning the inaugural Asheville Championship? Yes, but it wasn’t anything to get overly excited about.

Now, Minnesota is 7-0 with back to back victories over ACC (Pittsburgh) and SEC teams. Were they the best teams in either of those respective conferences? No, but it was still Power-5 competition and both games were on the road. That’s a feat the first year head coach should be proud of, especially when his team was picked to finish dead-last in the Big Ten this season.

Ben Johnson and his Gophers won’t find a bigger test all season than what their about to face in their next two games vs Michigan and Michigan State.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan