A slight shift of gears here with a change of sports. #6 Maryland was in town to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, so I decided to head down to Williams Arena to take in some hoops action.
Williams Arena, affectionately known as The Barn in these parts, opened in 1928 and currently seats 14,625. Between 1950-1971, Williams Arena was the largest college basketball arena in the country, seating 18,025. Located in Stadium Village on the East Bank of University of Minnesota campus, I had not been to a basketball game in the venerable arena since I was a student at the U of M.
The Barn, with its raised floor, is a unique venue for college basketball. It is one of three college basketball arenas in the country with a raised court. Getting to the second deck in Williams Arena, is like making your way through the bowels of a WWII battleship. It’s an old building, and fans can literally hang from the rafters. When the Gophers are winning, especially if it’s a rivalry game, The Barn simply roars and the entire building shakes with the stomping feet of the fans. There was a time when opposing teams did not relish coming into Williams Arena.
This year, I’m not sure a whole lotta shakin’ has been going on. It’s not so much a rebuilding year, as a resuscitation year. Prior to Thursday night, Minnesota had not won a B1G game this season.
Enter the Maryland Terrapins: Second in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin and #6 in the nation.
Minnesota hit 7 of 10 three pointers in the first 10 minutes to build an 11 point lead and set the tone of the game. Nate Mason had 18 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds; Jordan Murphy 17 points and 11 boards; and Joey King scored 15 and added 6 rebounds.
Minnesota led until 3 minutes left to play when Maryland went ahead 60-59, but Mason, King and Murphy all nailed free throws for the Gophers to retake the lead. In fact, King was 6 for 6 at the line in the final minute.
Final score: Minnesota 68 – Maryland 63. Attendance was 10,768
Fans have not stormed the court, since 2013 when Minnesota upset #1 Indiana.