Minnesota lost to Wisconsin in overtime today at Williams Arena. With the loss, the Gophers are now on a three game losing streak in Big Ten play. Despite excellent games from Amir Coffey and Akeem Springs, the Gophers were unable to overcome the Badgers front court of Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes.
For the game, the Gophers shot an effective field goal percentage of 54%. Unfortunately, they had only three points in the last 5:24 of the second half. That’s the ball game.
Much of that was due to Wisconsin being able to play 4 on 5 because Reggie Lynch fouled out for the fifth time in seven Big Ten games. We have discussed his fouling before, but today was another example of the problem with Lynch on the bench. Bakary Konate played some excellent minutes on defense, and should be properly commended for that. Unfortunately, he is not an offensive threat, and the Badgers properly left him alone on screens and post ups.
Akeem Springs will almost assuredly keep his place in the starting lineup. The senior had a near mistake free game with 16 points, three rebounds, and a steal, block, and assist. Springs provides a floor spacer that the Gophers desperately need in their dribble drive offense. His promotion to starter also allowed Dupree McBrayer to attack Wisconsin reserve players, which the sophomore did with relish. McBrayer rebounded from a few negative offensive performances to finish with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, and 2-2 from behind the arc.
Amir Coffey did Amir Coffey things which he made look pedestrian because he’s an incredible athlete. The freshman had 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a block and a steal. His three turnovers came on plays where he tried to be a little too creative (throwing a no look pass to Konate is a high risk move). Had the final score been reversed, most of this review would have been an in depth study of the importance of giving him the ball.
I liked a lot of Minnesota’s defensive gameplan, especially the strong shows on pick and rolls. The Gophers limited Wisconsin to 14 three point attempts, which of course they made 50% of because life is cruel and unfair.
Eric Curry once again had a game that showed he deserves more minutes. The freshman was burned by Nigel Hayes twice in the first half, but played tenacious defense in the second half and in overtime. Curry can also be a pick and pop player, and his jump shot is noticeably better than Jordan Murphy’s. Minnesota wants to have a north south attack, and that is difficult when the lane is clogged because defenders do not need to respect their man’s jumper.
I feel for Murphy, who is an excellent player trapped in an unclear offensive role. Pitino and his staff need to figure out ways to get Murphy into isolation situations on the low block. He’s near useless twenty feet away from the basket.
Apropos of nothing in particular, here’s the textbook video example of an offensive foul in the post where the offensive player hooks the defender. Note that the off hand is still on the basketball.