MINNEAPOLIS – Freshman point guard Andre Hollins gave Minnesota his best game of the season, guiding a spirited comeback with a career-high 20 points against No. 21 Wisconsin.
The performance was missing something, though, and that was a win.
Jordan Taylor scored 27 points for his first college win in his home state, and the Badgers gutted out a 68-61 overtime victory Thursday night.
The Badgers (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) failed to score over the last 7½-plus minutes of the second half while the Gophers (17-8, 5-7) dug out of a 13-point hole. But Hollins missed his big chance for the winner at the end of regulation.
Out of a timeout, the Gophers let the clock run, and Hollins had the ball at the top of the key. With Taylor in his face, he took a one-handed leaner after a crossover dribble that Taylor said he expected after watching some of Minnesota's past games.
Hollins said he was "highly upset" at himself for not using a step-back jumper, his pet move, instead.
"That's going to haunt me for a while," he said.
Austin Hollins grabbed the rebound along the baseline and tried a shot from the corner that bounced off the rim, sending the game to overtime.
Ryan Evans had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Wisconsin, which went 15 for 17 from the free throw line in overtime. The Gophers' only baskets were frantic 3-pointers by Andre Hollins, but the Badgers refused to let Minnesota close again after that late collapse in regulation.
Trailing 49-36 with 9:16 remaining, Andre Hollins and Rodney Williams helped the Gophers climb back on a night when Joe Coleman endangered his starting spot with a third straight scoreless game. Williams had only two rebounds to go with his 16 points.
The rest of the Gophers, beside Andre Hollins, shot 1 for 11 from 3-point range.
"He's very capable of it," coach Tubby Smith said. "He'll have to see a lot more time. We're struggling, some guys are, with shooting the ball."
The Gophers have been trying to climb above the middle of the pack since recovering from their 0-4 start, one of five teams that began the night with five or six losses in the conference. This started a stretch of five home games out of the last seven on the conference schedule, but including their rematch with the Badgers in Madison in less than three weeks, the Gophers were staring at five foes ranked in the Top 25.
Up next is No. 3 Ohio State.
"To lose this one at home really does put you back on your heels. But again through it all, you've got to maintain your composure and maintain your poise and keep persevering because these types of games will take the wind out of your sails quickly," Smith said.
Taylor had only one other 20-point game this season, when he scored 28 against Michigan State, and the preseason All-America hasn't been as productive or dominant as he was as a junior. Even his free throw shooting is down by 10 percent.
This was one of those signature games, though, for the spunky senior. After going 4 for 4 from 3-point range in the first half, he hit another one early in the second to push Wisconsin's lead to 37-26. About 5 minutes later he started a fast break, determined to finish it, he wove back and forth around the Gophers before flipping the ball in for a nifty layup and a three-point play to make it 45-33.
After drawing the foul and landing on the court, he sat up and struck one of those it's-my-night poses by folding his arms across his chest and staring confidently at his teammates.
Andre Hollins had his hands full guarding Taylor for much of the night, but the freshman held his own. Taylor was only 1 for 5 from 3-point range in the second half, and all of his overtime points were at the free-throw line after the Gophers were forced to commit desperation fouls.
"He's a good player. It was great playing against him. It was a learning experience for us. I don't think this is a down game for us. I think it shows what we can do," Hollins said.