The Gophers won for the second time in as many games over a Sun Belt team, this time taking down the preseason conference favorite, UT-Arlington, 84-67 to start the season 2-0. Even though the Mavericks have a hyphen in their name, the line before the game was so slim that it was basically a toss-up. And that’s how it played out for much of the first half, with UTA actually taking a 41-35 lead into halftime on hot shooting from all-conference PG Erick Neal.
The Gophers couldn’t say the same in the first half, putting themselves in an early hole on only 30% shooting and failing to capitalize on the rampant fouling delivered by UTA.
But whatever Richard Pitino said to the team at halftime must have stoked some sort of fire, as the Gophers came out and absolutely mauled the Mavericks the rest of the way, opening up a 24-3 run to start the second and completely take over the game. By the 8:30 mark, Arlington had scored only 5 points in the ENTIRE HALF.
The Gophers had six players in double figures, including the entire starting five, and committed only eight turnovers. Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey were especially impressive, with key plays that upped the intensity of the game and got things rolling. Lynch had 14 points in only 16 minutes.
Arlington was a tough matchup for only the second game of the season, as they’re full of veterans and have taken down P5 teams in the past. And it was impressive in the sense that Minnesota already showed that it can battle back and take control of a game against a solid opponent. This will be a good win for the resume come March.
- Eric Curry is looking like a great sixth man. The dude can come in and really stretch the defense. He’s big enough to bang down low but has enough touch that he’ll keep people honest away from the basket. And he can make free throws [swoon].
- Dupree McBrayer didn’t make a three, but he’s definitely a different player this year. He’s got way more confidence and looks like he’s spent a fair amount of time learning how to attack the basket. He’s much stronger.
- Reggie Lynch is going to be a beast if he can just stay on the court. He’s got a little bit of Elliott Eliason in him, in that he toes the line between playing straight up and fouling. He’s much more valuable on the court than off, so let’s hope he learns to let certain plays go.
- At this point it’s a 7-man rotation between Nate Mason, McBrayer, Coffey, Curry, Jordan Murphy, Akeem Springs and Lynch.