Zulgad: Gophers are moving on

DES MOINES, IOWA — The Gophers’ first-round game against Louisville is underway at Wells Fargo Arena and SKOR North is all over it with a live blog that started long before tipoff and will continue through today’s game.

9 a.m. Montana, which will play Michigan at 8:20 tonight, is the first team on the floor for its shootaround. The Wolverines followed at 9:30 a.m. The brief time these teams get on the court is followed up by sitting around all day waiting to play. Getting to play in an early game seems far more attractive.

9:41 a.m.: This building is the home of the Wild and Wolves’ top minor league clubs.

10:08 a.m.: Gophers and Louisville just took the floor to begin early warmups. Both team are off the floor by 10:26 a.m.

But shortly before that I found what had to be the highlight event in the history of this building.

10:19 a.m.: Does not appear that center Matz Stockman is on the floor for early warmups. He suffered a concussion in the Big Ten tournament and Richard Pitino was noncommittal about the redshirt senior playing this week. Looks like he won’t be playing today.

10:38 a.m.: The Gophers’ starting lineup: Dupree McBrayer, Jordan Murphy, Amir Coffey, Gabe Kalscheur, Daniel Oturu. Louisville’ starting lineup: Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora at the forwards; Malik Williams at center; Christen Cunningham and Khwan Fore at the guards.

10:40 a.m. Gophers take the floor.

11:15 a.m.: We are underway with the Gophers winning the tip. Amir Coffey misses first shot from corner as shot clock expires. Here are my pregame thoughts. Yes, I should have fixed my hair.

11:23 a.m.: The first official timeout on the floor comes with the Gophers leading 8-7 after a sloppy start to the game. Murphy leads the Gophers with four points and Coffey has three.

11:30 a.m.: Second timeout on the floor comes with 11:14 left in the first half and the Gophers leading 12-11. Coffey leading the Gophers with five points. Gophers are shooting 36 percent from the floor (14 percent from three) and Louisville is shooting 33 percent from the floor (14 percent from three).

11:42 a.m.: The Gophers, trailing by two, get back-to-back three poitners from McBrayer and Coffey to take a 21-17 lead and this building gets loud. Louisville then picks up a foul and there is a timeout on the floor with 6:28 left in the first half. Coffey now has 10 points.

11:49 a.m.: Kalscheur mixed in his first two points of the game as the Gophers are up 25-21 with 3:39 left and another timeout on the floor. The Gophers are now shooting 42 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three-point range. Louisville is at 36 percent from the floor and 22 percent from three-point range.

11:56 a.m.: The Gophers call their first timeout holding a 33-31 lead with 1:18 left in the first half. Kalscheur hit back-to-back three-pointes and Oturu scored to make it 33-26 for the Gophers but Louisville has come back with a 5-0 run.

12:01 p.m.: Coffey hits a three-pointer late in the first half to give the Gophers a 38-33 lead at halftime. That gives Coffey 13 points to lead Minnesota. The Gophers are shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 33 percent from the free-throw line. Louisville is shooting 45 percent from the field, 36 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free-throw line. Gophers scoring in the first half: Coffey 13, Kalscheur 8, Oturu 7, McBrayer 5, Murphy 5. Kalscheur led Minnesota with six rebounds, while Murphy and Oturu had three apiece. Oturu’s two assists led the Gophers.

12:23 p.m.: We begin the second half with the Gophers leading 38-33.

12:31 p.m.: First timeout on the floor in the second half comes with the Gophers leading 50-40 after having a lead as big as 12. Gophers have outscored Louisville 12-7 in the half with Murphy and Kalscheur both hitting three-pointers. Kalscheur has three three-pointers in the game.

12:55 p.m.: The Gophers had the lead up to as many as 19 points – 62-43 coming out of the last timeout — and right now the Gophers lead by 14 points with 7:45 left and another timeout on the floor. The Gophers continue to shoot 50 percent from the floor and Kalscheur is the story of this game. He has 24 points, including 16 in the second half. Kalscheur just had a layup after Louisville got within 12.

1:06 p.m.: Three minutes, 52 seconds left in the second half and a timeout on the floor with the Gophers up 74-64. Any rallies attempted by Louisville this half have fallen short as the Gophers seem to have a response for everything Louisville tries to do. Gophers got their lead back up to 15 on another three-pointer from Murphy but the Cardinals went on a 6-0 run before Coffey hit a free throw.

1:17 p.m.: Louisville rallied and Christen Cunningham’s three-pointer would have cut the lead to four points but he missed and McBrayer made two free throws to put the Gophers up 78-69. As our guy Seth Auger just noted, Murphy has been hobbling a bit behind the Gophers bench and it looks as if he’s trying to stretch out.

Final: Gophers 86, Louisville 76

Gophers win their first NCAA tournament game under Richard Pitino and will advance to play the winner of the Michigan State (2 seed) vs. Bradley (15) on Saturday in Des Moines. The Gophers last won an NCAA tournament game in 2013 when Tubby Smith’s team beat UCLA in the first round before losing to Florida in the second round. Pitino’s team lost to 12th-seeded Middle Tennessee State in the first round in 2017 in his only other appearance with Minnesota.

Kalscheur had 24 points, Coffey had 18, Oturu and McBrayer had 13 points apiece as the Gophers shot 50 percent from the field, 41 percent from three-point range and 65 percent from the line. Louisville shot 44 percent from the field, 35 percent from three-point range and 88 percent from the free-throw line.