Minnesota lost to Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena yesterday by a final score of 75-71. The Gophers have now lost 14 straight games in a row. Iowa is now in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten Conference. Peter Jok led all scorers with 27 points. The Four Factors are below.
In a different universe where the Gophers had won six games in conference, we would be talking about how this game was a chance to get a great resume win for the Tournament. Minnesota held serve with Iowa for much of the game, though the final score is also reflective of a hilariously stupid last minute of defense for Iowa. Once again, Minnesota was unable to shoot, but the Gophers rebounded well to get a lot of putbacks. More importantly, they did not turn the ball over and gift Iowa extra possessions.
On defense, the Gophers held a normally good shooting team to an effective field goal percentage of under 50%. The defense is taking strides as long as the opponent is not Northwestern. Freshmen played extensively throughout the game, and contributed almost 50% of the total minutes. If we extend that to returning players, that rises to over 80% of minutes. In addition to playing better defense, the freshmen actually made shots. Freshmen hit 5 of the Gophers 6 three point shots.
Since so many of these reviews have focused on the negatives and in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm going to focus on the positives.
Minnesota ran multiple nice sets against the Iowa defense. Credit to the staff for putting together a competent game plan that players could actually execute.
Next year, Jordan Murphy is going to stop being snake bit from four feet in and he will be impossible to defend. The freshman needs to add bulk, but at the college level he can be a matchup nightmare.
Dupree McBrayer improves every game. He clearly needs to add weight in the off-season, but the absurd comparison is now Austin Hollins. McBrayer's per 40 minutes as a freshmen look similar to Hollins, and he has the frame to put on enough weight to guard wings and combo guards.
Bakary Konate has taken deserved criticism for much of the year, but he was excellent on defense yesterday. Apart from two plays where he should have gotten over to help on a drive, the sophomore was fully engaged on the defensive end of the floor. He has the athleticism and size to be a rim protector, and finally showed why yesterday. I cannot speculate on whether this is a blip or a sign of sustained improvement, but should it be the latter the Gophers could get better on defense in a hurry next year.
Kevin Dorsey also made two three point shots yesterday. He has a long way to go to make that shot consistent, but it was nice to see. Dorsey was also called for a phantom carry in the final minutes of the game.
Ahmad Gilbert returned from a wrist injury and played solid minutes at the 3. He is definitely a chucker, but his shot form looks good. If he can develop into a reliable three point threat off the bench, the Gophers will have some nice depth next year.