Minnesota overcame its recent struggles to close out the regular season with a victory on senior day. Against a depleted Nebraska team, the Gophers eclipsed 100 points for the first time since Nov. 6, 2018.
In the final game of the regular season, Minnesota (14-16, 8-12 Big Ten) had its highest-scoring performance of the year in a 107-75 blowout over Nebraska (7-24, 2-18 Big Ten). The Gophers found their stroke, shooting 56.9% from the field, a trend the team hopes to continue into next week's Big Ten Tournament.
"It was important to get a win," said head coach Richard Pitino. "We've had so many close losses and this team has stuck with it. ... Hopefully they feel good about the momentum."
Nebraska was playing without two of its top-three scorers as sophomore Cam Mack and junior Dachon Burke Jr. were suspended indefinitely by the team on Saturday. Still, Minnesota fell behind 6-0 in less than two minutes.
Making his first start since the 2017-18 season, senior Michael Hurt gave the Gophers a spark with five early points. A three from redshirt sophomore Marcus Carr gave Minnesota its first lead at 11-10. Nebraska continued to battle, recovering from a 2:46 stretch without a point to tie the game after the Gophers went on a 15-4 run following the early 6-0 deficit.
Late in the period, Minnesota began to pull away. A 21-6 run over five minutes helped the Gophers establish a 19-point lead before they headed into the locker room ahead 52-37. Strong 3-point shooting helped build the advantage as Minnesota shot 7-13 from behind the arc in the first half.
"My first two shots didn't go in from the 3-point line," sophomore Gabe Kalscheur said. "Then the last three I made in the first half kind of carried on to the second half."
Following the intermission, senior Alihan Demir made the most of his final regular season game, scoring the first six points of the second period. Demir's hot start sparked a 12-2 Gophers run to open the half, putting them ahead 64-39, a comfortable margin that never wavered. Demir finished with a season-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double with Minnesota.
"It means a lot," Demir said of performing well in his final regular season game. "We tried to get a little momentum going before the game. We just have to keep that going."
As the Gophers cruised to victory, shots continued to fall. Kalscheur made six 3-pointers in the first 10:09 following halftime. Kalscheur's 26 points were a game-high and the most he has scored in Big Ten play this season.
"Confidence was high," said Kalscheur. "My teammates found me, props to them. The connection with the rim, I felt like every shot was going in and I did that in the second half."
An exciting senior moment came for former walk-on Brady Rudrud with 3:56 remaining when he rattled home a corner three. The shot was the second made 3-pointer of his career and set a single-game program record for made threes. Minnesota finished with 18 on the afternoon.
"I said all along, I thought we were a great shooting team. They waited for the last game to prove me right," Pitino said.
Carr posted a double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out 11 assists. Sophomore Daniel Oturu also finished in double-figure scoring with 10 points. Every Gopher entered the game and scored at least one point on Sunday.
"I don't know if I've ever been a part of a game where everybody scored," Pitino said. "That was pretty cool to see."
Minnesota will begin post-season play next week as the No. 12 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers take on Northwestern in Indianapolis on Wednesday.