The Gophers responded from a poor start to cruise to an 81-73 win over Southern Mississippi at the Barn. Austin Hollins played the best game of his career in his final game at the Barn. With the win, Minnesota moves on to:
Concrete jungles where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do. Alright now it's stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome.
The Four Factors are below:
The Gophers won three of the four factors. Tonight's game was a great reason why we don't look at basic field goal percentages. The Gophers were 50% from the field, but half of Minnesota's shots were from beyond the arc. The reason why we care about including 3 pointers is that Minnesota's eFG is much higher than that. Advanced stats y'all.
Now, having said that, Minnesota should not have taken 27 shots from behind the arc last night. Southern Mississippi's match up zone did a good job early on preventing entry feeds into the post, but for most of the game the Gophers settled for outside shots. I have always been a fan of the Suns seven seconds or less offense, so taking shots early in a possession isn't a problem for me. What is an issue is when there is a clear mismatch down low and a team does not even make an effort to get the ball inside.
The offensive rebounding numbers is concerning not because the Gophers are a good defensive rebounding team (they're not) but because of how Southern Mississippi grabbed a lot of those rebounds. Minnesota was pushed out of the paint by a smaller team far too often last night. This is a correctable issue though I am not sure whether it will be corrected this season.
I am adding a fifth factor because Sports-reference now has game scores: FT/FGA. Technically this is the fourth factor, so don't tell anyone. FT/FGA is a measure of how often a team gets to a line and how often they make free throws once there. This statistic tells you a couple of facts by proxy. First, it indicates whether there was a lot of driving to the basket since a player is more likely to be fouled in this situation. Additionally, it tells you how successful a team is at converting free point opportunities.
Minnesota had a little less than .4 free throws for every one field goal attempt (or to normalize was on pace for 40 free throws for every 100 FGA). The Gophers were 19-21 from the line led by Austin Hollins perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe. Free throws are always valuable, but at this stage in the season even more so. Unless there is a crazy result, no team is getting blown out in the post-season. In order to win, a team must convert free throws at a high conversion rate. The Gophers did that yesterday.
Austin Hollins had himself a game. The senior set a new career high with 32 points on 8-14 shooting (6-11 from deep) and added 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and no turnovers. He also had my favorite celebration of the year in the first half where he skipped and flapped his arms in a half dance half pump up motion. Since the big balls dance has been outlawed, this celebration should take off as the new go-to when a player is stupid good. As mentioned earlier, Hollins was also perfect from the free throw line. Move over Kendrick, Austin's the new King of New York.
Joey King did work from the high post. Southern Miss consistently left him open in the middle of the zone and he made them pay from the mid-range over and over. Beating a zone demands that players get into the weak spots and make quick, aggressive, and smart decisions to make the zone move. King was an excellent shooter and facilitator. He finished 7-13 from the field (just 1-4 from deep), and add 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal.
Mo Walker was once again too big to be defended. Walker was able to consistently get good post position against Southern Miss. In previous games, he has had trouble with double teams coming from the weak side, but yesterday was able to read the defense and get the ball out quickly. Walker had 12 points, was 6-7 from the line, pulled down 9 rebounds, had 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. His counterpart Elliott Eliason played 15 minutes, adding 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and a block. Mo Eliason finished the night with a double double.
Deandre Mathieu had a relatively quiet performance against his former coach (Storylines!). Mathieu had 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and only 1 assist to five turnovers. I don't think he was forcing the issue so much as early on Southern Miss's zone was very active. Turnover Dre is the worst Dre, but I'm confident that he'll return to better form at MSG.
Andre Hollins has caught whatever Malik Smith caught. Hollins finished with 5 points on 1-8 shooting (0-5 from 3). Most of his shots have been left short, which leads me as completely unqualified to assess injuries to believe his ankle is still not 100 percent. He simply does not seem to be getting the same power from his jump. While Hollins needs to be able to score for the Gophers to consistently be a threat, he did well in other areas of the game. Last night, he had 7 assists to just 2 turnovers, four rebounds, and 2 steals.
In honor of the occasion and in no particular order, the top songs about New York. There is no Billy Joel because ugh Billy Joel.
NY State of Mind-Nas
Empire State of Mind- Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
No Sleep 'till Brooklyn-Beastie Boys
New York (Ya Out There)- Rakim
New York, New York- Frank Sinatra
New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down- LCD Soundsystem
Tom Waits - Union Square
Duke Ellington- Take the A Train
The Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting for the Man
Pogues- Fairytale of New York (which also doubles as the best Christmas song ever)
The Gophers will take on the winner of Florida State and Louisiana Tech on April 1st.