MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Maurice Hargrow wasn't nervous when he strode
to the free throw line with the game tied and 7.5 seconds to go.
This is what he lives for.
"I felt no pressure," Hargrow said. "That's what you play
basketball for. That's why you play sports. I was at home on the
Hargrow sank one of two free throws to lift Minnesota to a
thrilling 69-68 victory over UAB on Wednesday night.
Hargrow, who had missed three straight games with a high ankle
sprain he suffered against Maryland on Nov. 30, led Minnesota with
20 points, the final one capping a wild final two minutes.
The Gophers (6-2) led by five points with 34 seconds to play
before Squeaky Johnson and Marvett McDonald hit consecutive
3-pointers to tie the game at 68 with 10.6 seconds to go.
But with the Blazers pressing in their usual aggressive style,
Demario Eddins fouled Hargrow in the backcourt while trying to make
After Hargrow made his shot, Johnson raced the length of the
floor and had a good look at a leaner just outside the lane, but it
glanced off the rim and Vincent Grier grabbed the rebound to
preserve the Gophers' fourth straight win.
"It's like they say, 'Close but no cigar," UAB coach Mike
Anderson said. "I'm very proud of our guys. They had every
opportunity, especially in the first half, to fold their tent and
Eddins, the Blazers' leading scorer who sat out most of the
first half for disciplinary reasons, stood in the lane stunned
disbelief, hiding his face in his jersey.
"I'll take the blame for the loss," Anderson said. "I didn't
have the right people in at the right time. The game didn't come
down to Demario's foul."
Johnson had a career-high 15 points and six assists and Eddins
had 11 points and five assists for the Blazers (4-3).
Adam Boone scored 14 of his 15 points in the first half and Dan
Coleman scored all 11 of his points in the second half for the
Gophers, who took advantage of Eddins' absence to take a 16-point
lead in the first half before nearly letting it slip away in the
"I don't know what the story was there, but I wish it would
have been a longer story," Gophers coach Dan Monson said of
Eddins' absence. "He changed the game when he went in."
Eddins, who was averaging nearly 16 points a game, missed the
team bus from UAB to the airport, so Anderson sat him down for
nearly the entire opening period.
The Blazers clearly missed their primary scoring option,
shooting just 32 percent in the opening half to fall behind by 11
Their shooting woes also limited the Blazers, who have led the
nation in steals for the past three seasons, from setting up their
frenetic, full-court trapping defense.
With Eddins watching from the bench, UAB went scoreless for
nearly five minutes.
The Gophers took advantage, going on a 10-0 run highlighted by
two driving layups by Grier and a pair of jumpers from Hargrow, who
said his ankle loosened up as the game went on.
"Mo was unbelievable," Monson said. "In the amount of time
he's off and how pain he was in, that's what older guys, what men,
do. He sucked it up."
The Gophers made 63 percent of their shots in the first half and
50 percent for the game.
Eddins started the second half and immediately made a
difference. He hit two jumpers and opened up the floor for his
teammates during an 11-2 run in the first four minutes.
"You saw the calmness he brought," Anderson said. "He's been
in there since he got here. But that's why you call it a team."
Johnson picked up the slack, hitting 6 of 8 shots to nearly
triple his scoring average for the season.
"He was probably the player of the game," Anderson said. "The
guy wants to win. People think he can't shoot, but Squeaky can
The Blazers needed just one more shot from Johnson, but his last
shot rimmed out, much to Hargrow's relief. But Hargrow said he saw
this one coming.
"I knew I was going to have an impact," Hargrow said. "When I
laid on my bed last night I knew it because I'm not going to settle
for anything else."