Gophers bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

The Gopher could not slow down the Blue Raiders at the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 5-seeded Gopher men's basketball team was defeated 81-72 by No. 12 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The Gophers jumped out to an early lead but the Blue Raiders caught fire thereafter, leading 37-31 at halftime.

Middle Tennessee State could not be stopped from landing 3 points, hitting 7-13 shots from behind the arc.

After trailing by 17, the Gophers went on 16-3 run late in the second half, cutting the lead to four points, but they couldn't complete the comeback.

Junior guard Nate Mason was ice cold in the loss. He missed all seven of his shots in the first half and wound up scoring just 5 points on 2-10 shooting.

Although the loss is a let down, the 2016-17 Gopher men's basketball team had one of the best turnarounds in college basketball from a year ago.

Last year, the team won just eight games and this year Richard Pitino led the U of M to a 25-10 record and a No. 5 seed at March Madness.

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