Despite another great scoring game by Dre Hollins, Minnesota lost to Wisconsin 78-70. With the loss the Gophers fall to 5-7 in the Big 10. Minnesota suffered multiple lapses on both ends. Wisconsin was able to get open looks all game, and the Gophers were never able to overcome the deficit of the first half.
The four factors are below
As can be seen, Wisconsin won three of the four factors. The most important one tonight was the turnover battle. As mentioned in the preview, Wisconsin is last in the Big 10 in forcing turnovers. While Bo Ryan clearly made adjustments for the second meeting, most of the Gophers early turnover were simply sloppy plays. In the first half, the Gophers turned the ball over multiple times by attempting to make difficult passes to the roll man on the pick and roll. It was ineffective because Wisconsin was collapsing multiple defenders in the lane and most of the passes being thrown to the roll man were blind. The Badgers scored 13 points off Minnesota's turnovers.
Minnesota stayed in the game because of above average 3 point shooting. Dre Hollins led the way with 22 points and was 4-6 from behind the arc. He also was able to get to the foul line and make several step back jumpers. Unfortunately, Hollins had no assists, a fact that was emblematic of the problems on the offensive end. He dribbled too much and made poor passing decisions on the pick and roll.
Minnesota's spacing and communication was especially problematic. In the first meeting between the two teams, Minnesota was aggressive in closing out, knew which switches to make, and generally made life difficult for Wisconsin's jump shooters. This time around, the Gophers frequently looked lost on the defensive end. One play in particular where Wisconsin's wing players screened for each other led to multiple open shots. Even when the Gophers did play good defense, Wisconsin made difficult low percentage shots. Nigel Hayes did his best Kevin Garnett impression and made several long range 2s.
Malik Smith looked more comfortable from the floor. I may have missed it, but the last few games Smith's shot had changed to such a degree that I thought he had an ankle injury. Tonight he had good height on his jumpers and looked confident in catch and shoot situations. He finished with 14 points and was 4-7 behind the arc.
Neither Mo Walker or Elliott Eliason played particularly well. With any other game some credit would have to be given to the opposition, but this is Wisconsin so I refuse on principle. Walker was plagued by foul trouble in the first half, and never seemed to be able to get into the rhythm of the game. Eliason was similarly ineffective on the offensive end.
Daquein McNeil continues to show improvement on the offensive end. Pitino clearly trusts him to be the back up PG behind Mathieu. McNeil has done a good job of keeping the game simply and even made a nice three in a catch and shoot situation.
Finally, the Kohl Center ate GoAUpher's iPhone. We now have definitive proof that nothing good ever happens in that building, no matter what the commentators said.
The Gophers next play Northwestern on Sunday.