Minnesota lost to Michigan yesterday in Ann Arbor 74-69. The Gophers are now 0-7 in conference play, have an eight game losing streak, and are 6-13 on the season. Michigan improves to 14-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Nate Mason led all scorers with 25 points. The Four Factors are below.
Minnesota again had an eFG% of under 50%. I have not run the numbers, but I'm fairly confident that this is the worst shooting team in the last decade, if not the last twenty years. Impressively, Michigan was even worse from the field. Some of that was better defensive play from the Gophers. It is difficult to square the blowout losses against Northwestern and Nebraska with the Michigan and Michigan State games. Minnesota is far away from a good team, but they do have the ability to play with effort when they choose.
Indeed, Michigan players could count on one hand the number of times teams have cross-matched on ball screens like the Gophers did yesterday. Credit Pitino for purposely shaking up his defensive strategy. As the season goes one, the major point for next season will be signs of improvement for both players and the coaching staff. Yesterday's game was an example of improvement for both.
Unfortunately, effort does not equate to more made three point shots. The Gophers attempted 22 three pointers and made a paltry 6. Minnesota did have more success attacking the basket against a weaker Michigan front court. Nate Mason was 8-12 from inside the arc, and the Gophers as a whole shot 51%.
Minnesota's late game lineup featured three players who will return next year. Dupree McBrayer has become more involved each game, especially with Kevin Dorsey's poor play off the bench the last few games. The freshman finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Jordan Murphy had a bounce back game and finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds. He also had a stretch of defensive dominance at the under 8 mark of the second half. Murphy blocked Michigan shots on back to back possessions, and then was unjustly called for a foul on another clean block two possessions later. Another year of college strength and conditioning, and Murphy will do big things.
Joey King sat to start the game, but ended up playing a team high 36 minutes. He only had three points, and struggled to get open looks.
Carlos Morris played a solid game. The senior still attempted too many poor shots, but finished with 14 points and was one of the few Gophers able to create his own offense.
Minnesota next plays Illinois at Williams Arena on Saturday.