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Minnesota Basketball Loses in Overtime to Illinois 76-71

The Gophers remain winless in conference play.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota lost to Illinois in overtime 76-71. Despite multiple Illinois runs, the Gophers blew multiple chances to win the game in regulation before collapsing in overtime. With the loss, the Gophers are 6-14 on the season and winless in conference play. Illinois improves to 10-10 on the season and 2-5 in conference play. Malcolm Hill led all scorers with 28 points.

The Four Factors are below.

School Pace eFG% OR% TO% FTA/FGA ORtg Effective Possessions
Minnesota 79 47.1 17.02 16.45 .173 91 .93
Illinois 79 48.3 25 17.72 .354 97 .949

Since GopherNation requested it, I've also added the Effective Possessions Ratio, which is defined by as (POSSESSIONS + OR - TO)/ POSSESSIONS.This ratio measures how good a team is actually getting scoring chances. Higher is better. If you look at the formula, if a team commits no turnovers and gets no offensive rebounds, then their effective possessions are equal to their actual possessions.

The pace statistic is a bit skewed because of overtime. I estimated that there were about 69 possessions in regulation. Nonetheless, several points stand out. First, the Gophers shot under 50% again. Illinois's decision to play zone after the Gophers torched them on the dribble drive was astute. Minnesota never found an offensive rhythm against the Illini, and attempted a lot of three point shots. Perhaps someday that will be fine, but the current Minnesota squad is horrible at shooting. The Gophers made just over 30% of their three point attempts. Joey King and Nate Mason were 10-24 from the field. The rest of the Gophers were 1-12.

King rushed several attempts late, but the worst three point attempt of the night came from Dupree McBrayer. The freshman had a lot of positive plays on the night but his shot is completely broken. The freshman also made several mistakes on offense that put the Gophers behind in overtime.

On defense, the Gophers were inconsistent. The first six minutes of the game were the best the team has played all season. They communicated and rotated well to frustrate the Illini. A rare sight, the Gophers picked up multiple steals through active hands and blocking passing lanes. If Minnesota had played that kind of defense all night, they would have still won despite the poor offensive performance.

Alas, Minnesota did not play defense like that all night. Some of that was due to offensive woes. Illinois was able to control tempo and get out in transition for easy baskets. Some of that was due to consistent rotational miscues. Illinois had several wide open shot attempts due to lack of communication on the part of Minnesota defenders.

Minnesota still had a lead late in the game and nearly overcame the defensive breakdowns in regulation. The Gophers led by five points with 2:28 to play. The win probability with two minutes to play was 95% in Minnesota's favor. The resulting 2:28 was an impressive collapse as the Gophers found a new way to lose.

About the playcall at the end. It's clear that at least two Gophers messed up the execution at the end. Joey King was probably supposed to be in a different spot after the inbounds. Pitino was screaming at him to move, and his initial positioning did not give Mason much space. Jordan Murphy's screen to free Mason for a shot at the end was weak. Kendrick Nunn easily fought through the screen to contest Mason's jumper.

Individual Notes

Kevin Dorsey played strong minutes against Illinois. The freshman finished with 7 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist, a steal, and a block. He made several intelligent defensive plays, including a weak side help that nearly netted a steal. Since this season is over, greenshoots become more important. Dorsey is the only highly recruited freshman on the Gophers roster to not take a step forward. Hopefully, the Illinois game will serve a stepping stone for a solid end of year.