The Gophers men's basketball team showed up in Columbus to compete Sunday afternoon in a nationally televised game on CBS for the first four minutes. For the remaining 36 minutes, the Gophers didn't put up anything resembling a fight and suffered arguably the team's most embarrassing loss of the Tubby Smith era. The final was 85-63, and it probably wasn't that close.
There's no sugar-coating this one. There's no silver-lining. I'm not even sure we can argue the team played hard.
Minnesota's over-hyped team defense was sieve-like. For two-thirds of the game the Buckeyes were shooting over 70 percent from the floor. They finished at a staggering 63 percent. And while the Buckeyes were surely hot shooting, Minnesota allowed so many easy looks and lob-dunks that the game looked like a match-up of Ohio State's A team against Minnesota's B team. It was that ugly.
Minnesota's over-hyped pressure defense also failed to put any meaningful ball pressure on Ohio State all game. The Gophers created only 4 steals and turned the Buckeyes over 12 times. Minnesota on the other hand turned the ball over a 17 times. Sloppy.
I've seen some argue that the defensive breakdowns are in large part because of the absence of Al Nolen. I agree that the team defense isn't as good without Nolen on the floor, but they aren't embarrassingly bad talent-wise from a defensive perspective without Nolen. This butt-kicking in Columbus was more about a lack of heart and want-to on the defensive end then it was a result of Nolen's absence.
Ohio State's Evan Turner certainly makes the Buckeyes a tough match-up for any Big Ten team. He's a gifted player who can do so many thing on the floor. He finished with19 points, shooting 64 percent from the floor and added 8 assists and 4 steals. William Buford led the Buckeyes with 26 points and shot a blistering 71 percent. Uck.
Individually for the Gophers, there aren't many players to call out for good games or bad. This was a disaster the entire team should bear responsibility for. A couple individual notes, though. Colton Iverson in 13 minutes found a way to turn the ball over 4 times. The sophomore has to be more responsible with the basketball. Seniors Damian Johnson and Lawrence Westbrook should be looked at to carry this team when things aren't going well. Neither was the team-leader they needed to be. Blake Hoffarber disappeared again on the road. And many of the reserves proved to be non-factors.
It was interesting to see that Tubby Smith reverted to his even distribution of playing time just two games removed from changing that philosophy against Michigan State. Ten players played at least 11 minutes. Devron Bostick's 12 minutes were particularly unproductive.
Perhaps only Rodney Williams' 20 minutes off the bench were deserved. WIlliams led the team with 13 points on 5 for 6 shooting. He also used his athleticism to complete on the glass. There, it took awhile, but I found one positive from the game.
One another note, Bryant Allen made his Minnesota debut and played one minute late in the second half once the game was far out of reach. Like many of you, I had moved on to other Sunday afternoon activities by the time the two-sport Allen made his entrance. Considering this game was over at halftime, Allen probably could have played more minutes to at least see what he's capable of.
Regardless, the Gophers were thoroughly whipped in Columbus. Had this game been played at Williams Arena, the home crowd would have had every right to boo this team off the floor.
While there is time left to make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid, this team on Sunday looked to be little more than a team destined for a one-and-done bid in the NIT.