Minnesota beat Vanderbilt at the Sanford Pentagon 56-52. Jordan Murphy led Minnesota with 16 points. Amir Coffey had 9 points. With the win, Minnesota is 7-1 on the season and has beat two of three best non conference opponents they’ve played.
Minnesota’s talent did not show up for the first five minutes of the game, allowing Vanderbilt to jump out to a 14-2 lead. The Gophers came roaring back behind Amir Coffey, Eric Curry and Bakary Konate. Yes, Bakary Konate.
Bakary Konate was the first half MVP. Coming off the bench, he provided much needed energy on the defensive side of the floor. Most notably, he went vertical to contest shots multiple times without fouling. If Reggie Lynch plays up to potential and Konate can give 14 minutes of similar effort the Gophers will be set at center.
Minnesota jumped out to a 12 point lead on a 15-2 run to open the second half. After that, Vanderbilt slowly fought back to take the lead 45-44 at the 7:09 mark. Minnesota had difficultly breaking down Vanderbilt’s zone, and seemed much to passive for much of the second half. Credit to Vanderbilt for finding ways to confuse the Gophers.
Fortunately, Amir Coffey, Reggie Lynch, and Jordan Murphy made key defensive plays down the stretch, and the Gophers’ offense did just enough to get the win. Lynch had several blocks late that sealed the win for Minnesota. It is wonderful to watch a legitimate defensive center do work in the post.
Minnesota’s warm up shirts are old school fire. I want one.
Minnesota also had problems making free throws again. The Gophers were 7-15 from the charity stripe. That’s awful and Minnesota will lose a game this year because of their poor free throw shooting.
Pitino has coalesced around a very short rotation early in the season. It will be interesting going forward to see if that expands at all.