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Miami hands Minnesota their first loss of season

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Poor shooting and short bench prove to be too much.

Miami’s offense was too much to handle for the Gophers in the ACC/B1G Challenge.

It was a night where the Gophers seemed to be playing against more than just their opponent. From poor shooting and untimely turnovers, to a pregame announcement that starting guard Dupree McBrayer would be missing from the game due to a leg infection, Minnesota had a lot of their plate, not to mention playing the #10 team in the nation in the Miami Hurricanes. In the end, the Gophers fell 86-81 to the ACC counterpart.

Facing their toughest opponent yet, the Gophers scratched and clawed their way through the game, hitting big shots to keep it within reach until late in the second half, but never stringing it together on both ends of the court to make a substantial run. Jordan Murphy had a beast-mode first half, nearly notching a double-double in the first 20 minutes and laying waste to the Miami defense. Ditto for Amir Coffey. But the Hurricanes stuck to their game plan in the half court and decimated the Minnesota defense with dribble-drives and timely back picks. 23 points from leading Miami scorer Dewan Huell didn’t help things, and the Canes won the intangibles game when there was little margin for error.

The Gophers fell down by 12 midway through the second half, but found themselves with the opportunity to cut the lead to two with Jordan Murphy at the free throw line late in the game. But two missed free throws and quick buckets by the Hurricanes put the game out of reach.

In the end the Gophers gave the Hurricanes too many second chances and fell victim to a thin bench while doing a poor job on pick and roll defense. The team didn’t register a single bench point, and they racked up only 12 assists while turning it over 12 times, which isn’t the norm.

A win would have been nice but, really, this will go down as an acceptable loss. Chalk this one up to going head to head with a really good team and just not having enough weapons to get the job done. At worst, it’s a good learning opportunity for a team that hasn’t been defeated all year, but the Gophers win this game if Dupree McBrayer plays; and that’s what stings the most.

The real conference season starts on Sunday against Rutgers, as the Big Ten will play a couple games before getting back to the rest of the non-con. It’s dumb, I know.

Notes:

  • The biggest difference in the game was points off turnovers. Miami had 17 while the Gophers only had 2. Yuck.
  • Isaiah Washington ended with a serviceable line, but for 35 minutes he was having a terrible game, complete with missed shots and turnovers. In the presser after the game there were a lot of questions about his performance, but Pitino and Mason chalked it up to a freshman learning curve. He got the looks, but couldn’t execute.
  • Murphy was again a beast, scoring 17 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. If he’s doing this against a team like Miami I think it’s safe to say that he’s going to be in the Player of the Year conversation all year. Think about that.
  • Amir Coffey took the game over at times and hit some big shots. He finished with 23 points and was perfect from the free throw line.
  • Reggie Lynch was himself, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.