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Minnesota Beats Furman 86-76

The Gophers survived the hot shooting Paladins to improve to 10-2 on the season

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota defeated Furman 86-76 last night at Williams Arena. The Gophers improve to 10-2 on the season. Minnesota scored more than 80 points for the sixth straight game, the first time that has happened since 1992. Joey King led the Gophers with 19 points.

Four Factors

School Pace eFG TO OR FT/FGA ORtg
Furman 74.8 57.6 22.0 24.1 .136 101.3
Minnesota 74.8 57.4 16.2 39.4 .262 114.7

Furman's eFG% reflects the high variance strategy of "Shoot a 3 even if you're not that open and see what happens." The Paladins had 26 three point attempts, and hit 12 of them. It helped that on a decent number of those attempts the Gophers were late to close, but Furman made some shots that they are unlikely to hit. How unlikely? Furman came into the game shooting a little over 31% for the season from three, and made 46% of their attempts against the Gophers.

With that said, Minnesota's defense is prone to giving up good looks from deep if the back line of the press does not close out on shooters. Any press has weaknesses if the offense can get the ball across half court ahead of the defenders, particularly in the 2-1-2 press that Pitino likes to employ. It is incumbent on the guards to prevent the ball from getting ahead of them. Games like tonight are "good" in the sense that they put a lot of mistakes on film for the team to correct.

Then again, take away four or five fluky threes, and the Gophers win another one in a laugher. On the offensive end, the Gophers scored over a point per possession, rebounded a good portion of their misses, and got to the foul line once ever four field goal attempts. Minnesota's eFG was nearly identical despite a poor effort from deep. Outside of Nate Mason (who we'll return to later), and Joey King, no one on the Gophers made a three. The team shot 6-19 for the night, and a number of those looks have been going in of late. Minnesota was over 10% worse from behind the arc than usual this season.

Free throw shooting remains a concern for this team. Minnesota went 16-26 from the charity stripe against Furman, cementing that poor free throw shooting is a thing this year and not statistical noise. If it continues, the Gophers will lose a game this year because the team could not convert free throw opportunities.


Nate Mason went NBA Jam at a critical time in the second half. The freshman has a scorer's mentality and the confidence to take critical shots. On a night where every other member of the back court was struggling from deep, Mason was 4-5. He finished with 14 points and 4 steals in 22 minutes. For the season, he's averaging 10.3 points coming off the bench while playing excellent defense. He probably will not win back to back freshman of the week honors, but on pure impact in this game he should.

Joey King had an excellent first half to keep the Gophers in the lead. King finished with 19 points, and added 3 rebounds, a steal, and an assist to his stat line. The forward has become more willing to let fly when open from deep, and Pitino did a good job keeping him involved on pick and pop plays with the guards.

According to Amelia Rayno, Andre Hollins is battling turf toe. The senior sustained the injury against Seattle and potentially was not going to even play against Furman. Hollins did not look 100%.

Plays of the Game

With 1:51 to play, Mo Walker correctly read a double team and passed to Nate Mason who made his fourth three pointer of the night. Perhaps even more critically, on the ensuing defensive possession Walker blocked Stephen Croone's shot. While the Paladins recovered the ball, they were unable to score points and the Gophers sailed to the win.