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Minnesota Basketball: Gophers fall to Hawkeyes 94-73

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

The Gophers played great for the first 19 minutes. Unfortunately a basketball game is 40 minutes long. Iowa went on a run at the end of the first half that didn't stop, outscoring Minnesota 61-30 after the 1:13 mark of the first half. Unsurprisingly, the Gophers were beat in all four factors of the game. Iowa finished with a ludicrously high 134.7 Offense rating, shot a 56.8 eFG%, and rebounded 40% of their misses.

First, give credit where credit is due. Iowa is a really good basketball team, probably the best team the Gophers have faced this year since Michigan State was short-handed. The Hawkeyes are tall and athletic at every position, have multiple shooters, and run a great system. When he's not throwing temper tantrums, Fran McCaffery has built a talented team in Iowa City. Iowa consistently exploited Minnesota's mistakes on the defensive end for open looks and easy points. Josh Oglesby stepped up in a big way, hitting all four of his 3 point attempts in the first half and finishing with 17 points on the day.

But enough complimenting the Hawkeyes, The second reason for the lopsided score was the complete breakdown of the Gophers' offense and defense in the second half. The Gophers played their worst half of basketball since the Arkansas game. Andre Hollins led all Gopher scorers with 20 points, but also committed four turnovers and was a non-factor for much of the second half. Austin Hollins was the only other Gopher in double figures and led the team in rebounds with 8. Eventually fouling out, Elliot Eliason was unable to be a consistent factor on the inside, and Mo Walker excluded the Gophers have no other inside presence.

The second half was a masterclass in how to not play defense. The Gophers were slow to rotate, slapped at the ball instead of moving their feet for position, and failed to communicate leading to open shots. Iowa shredded the Gophers man and zone defense by using well-timed screens that the Gophers were unable to adjust to. On back to back possession in the second half, an Iowa player got an open look from 3 because the Gophers didn't call out an off ball screen.

Some of the defensive mistakes were due to to Elliot Eliason being out. He was called for his third foul early in the second half, and there is a noticeable defensive drop off from him to Mo Walker. For the Gophers to compete against the top tier teams in the BIG conference, Eliason has to stay out of foul trouble.

The Gophers next game is on Wednesday at home against Wisconsin.

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