Minnesota was embarrassed on the road by Arkansas. 95-79. The Gophers have now dropped two in the row and have to seriously consider their offensive and defensive game plans for the rest of the season.
The Gophers put up a simply horrific performance on the road. Reggie Lynch sat for most of the first half with two fouls and then sat for most of the second half after picking up two more. Arkansas shot an effective field goal percentage of 74% in the first half. For the game C.J. Jones of Arkansas had more three pointers than Minnesota as a team. Minnesota was 5-19 from behind the line. The Gophers missed 13 free throws, which if you do the math makes this a one possession game if they had been perfect. Just to cap off a paragraph of terrible facts, the Gophers finished with 10 turnovers and without a gift assist from the scorer would have had more turnovers than assists.
The most frustrating part of the offense is that when the ball moves, the Gophers are good. For too much of this game the ball was near stationary. The team over-dribbled, looked lost on offensive calls, and settled for lots of poor shots. That is on Pitino. Minnesota did not look ready to play.
Team defense was horrific throughout the game. The Gophers were late getting back on defense early leading to three easy Arkansas baskets. They did not communicate on back screen, leading to three three point baskets. They were lazy on covering on pick and rolls, which lead to several open shots for the Razorbacks. During the second half when they needed to get a stop, the defense could not hold for a single possession. Arkansas had their way with Minnesota all night.
Some may think that Arkansas’s 40 minutes of hell would have been tough on Minnesota’s bench. That person would not have watched our bench this year. Gaston Diedhiou played his first non garbage-time minutes of the year, and was better than Davonte Fitzgerald. Eric Curry’s injury becomes more impactful every game.
There were a few positives amidst the destruction. Jordan Murphy had another double double. This makes him the first player in the NCAA since Michael Beasley to have a double double in every game so far. Amir Coffey had 18 points and would have had several more assists if his bigs could have caught perfect passes into their hands.
The officiating in this game was excellent. Minnesota fans should have no complaints whatsoever about the zebras.
Zone worked for the few possessions it was tried. At this point, the Gophers need to seriously consider expanding their use of zone, especially if Lynch is going to be out for stretches.
Let us hope Bakary Konate only has a minor concussion and can return to play quickly. Let’s weep that we need to worry about Konate being gone for multiple games.