For the third straight game the Gophers were atrocious from the free throw line (7-15).
For the third straight game the Gophers couldn't develop anything consistent in the half-court offense.
For the third straight game the Gophers defense had some nice moments, but also way too many costly lapses.
The result? A 63-58 loss in Coral Gables to the Miami Hurricanes.
This one stings a tad less because it's a road game, but for the third consecutive outing Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers lost a winnable game against a team that most college basketball experts believe Minnesota is better than.
After a slow start Wednesday night, the Gophers' pressure defense forced numerous first half turnovers that led to easy Minnesota offense. Miami's poor ball-handling and Minnesota's pressure gave the Gophers a 30-25 halftime lead. But in the second half Minnesota's defense wasn't turning over the Hurricanes any more and those easy baskets wouldn't come in the half-court.
After being benched for the first half against Texas A&M, Lawrence Westbrook and Al Nolen were reinserted into the starting lineup. Both played well, especially in the first half. Nolen was creating turnovers (he had 5 of the team's 7 steals) and driving to the basket. Westbrook played under control for the most part and led the team with 19 points.
The Hurricanes played composed basketball in the second half--more composed than the Gophers--and earned this win. For a team that is known for turning the ball over, the Hurricanes only committed 13 turnovers against Minnesota's "tenacious" defense. The Gophers, by contrast, turned the ball over 11 times. Dwayne Collins, held in check most of the first half, dominated the glass with 11 rebounds. Durand Scott led all scorers with 20 and Malcolm Grant buried the Gophers from behind the arc.
- ** Ralph Sampson III played 23 mostly ineffective minutes. He couldn't handle the physical of Dwayne Collins. I'm wondering why Colton Iverson didn't see more action. He's the more physical of the two big men and Iverson has demonstrated some improvement to begin his sophomore campaign. Iverson seems better on the glass and better offensively. Free Colton?
- ** Rodney Williams looked lost. His stat line is as follows: 16 minutes, 0-2 from the field, 0-2 free throws, 1 assist, 2 turnovers and a personal foul.
- ** I don't really know what to say about the free throw shooting. It's beyond atrocious. Rodney Williams chucked one up there tonight that found itself lodged between the rim and the backboard. Yuck. Damian Johnson was 1-5, including some crunch-time free throws.
- ** To begin the game the Gophers struggled again against a 2/3 zone. Finally, after losing to Portland because of their struggles and after a few bad possessions against Miami, the Gophers finally started getting the ball into the middle of the zone by placing Damian Johnson around the free throw line. It worked. Damian hit a shot or two from the center of the lane and the zone collapsed often enough to give the Gophers open outside shots that they hit.
- ** It was nice to see both Blake Hoffarber and Devoe Joseph get hot for a period. Blake was 3-6 from three. Joseph was 2-5, though that included an air ball during crunch time.
- ** The Gophers were out-rebounded 32-24. Al Nolen led the team with 6 rebounds. No other player had more than 3.
- ** Despite reportedly being available for this game and no longer on suspension, senior Devron Bostick didn't see the floor.
Anyone have other thoughts or takeaways from the game? With the loss the Gophers are now 4-3 and return home for a stretch of games they should win. I can't see Brown, Morgan State, Saint Joseph's, Northern Illinois or South Dakota State giving the Gophers much of a game. Maybe what this team needs most is a confidence boost. They should get that in the coming weeks.