Minnesota lost to Purdue 77-74 in three overtimes. The Gophers missed another chance to get a Big 10 road win and have now lost three straight games to three of the worst teams in the BIG 10 by a combined 8 points. The Four Factors for the game are below:
The Gophers lost three of the four factors and in this game offensive rebounding wasn't a mirage. Unlike the Northwestern game, Purdue competed for offensive rebounds. An OR% of 46% is roughly what last year's Minnesota team-the best offensive rebounding team of all time-put up in a game. Purdue leads the Big 10 this year in OR%, so credit has to go to them for crashing the boards hard. Nevertheless, many of their offensive rebounds were in a position where Minnesota's guards should have grabbed the rebound. The Gophers' rebounding futility is well-documented, and yesterday's game was further evidence that rebounding must be a team effort.
Some of the rebounding problems were related to being in a zone defense. For the fourth straight game the Gophers struggled in the zone. Purdue was able to get multiple open looks from behind the 3-point line and long 2s and converted at rates above their season averages. As Jim Boeheim will confirm, in order to be good at a zone a team must commit to the zone. The Gophers may be committed to the zone, but at this stage in player development they may want to rethink that.
Dre Hollins returned and played heroic minutes, but was obviously affected by his ankle injury. His lack of lateral movement prevented him from successfully driving into the paint. Hollins finished 3-14 from the field and just 2-8 from behind the arc. He is still nowhere near 100%, but it was good to see him ahead of schedule.
Austin Hollins is returning to the offensive form he showed at the beginning of the year while continuing to be an excellent defender. He had a typically Austin Hollins stat line of 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and led the team in minutes.
Joey King provided an offensive spark for the Gophers. He was 6-8 from the field and 2-4 from 3-point range. He also led the team in rebounds with 9 and had three assists. King is still a liability on defense, a fact that is mitigated to a degree by his relative inexperience, but the Gophers desperately need that kind of scoring from the 4 position.
Mo Walker continues to improve both facets of his game. Walker has been in double figures in three of his last four games. He also played strong defense on A.J. Hammons, especially in overtime. There is simply no way that Walker's conditioning last year would have allowed him to play 32 minutes. It's no secret that I like Eliason's game a lot, but Walker deserves to start soon.
Speaking of Eliason, how pretty was his outlet pass to Austin at the end of regulation? Eliason knew before the rebound where Hollins was supposed to be and threw him a pass that allowed Hollins to stay in rhythm on the break. Eliason led the team with 5 assists. If it was possible to use comic book technology to combine the collective strengths of the Minnesota big men, Mo Eliason would be a lottery pick.
DeAndre Mathieu showed both his ability to make amazing plays as well as his ability to get lost too deep and commit silly turnovers. Teams will not be successful if their PG has a 3:7 Assist to TO ratio.
The Gophers next play Indiana at the Barn on Saturday.
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