After playing a game that at times could have been uncharitably compared to a elementary school pick up game, the Gophers emerged victorious 75-74 over Indiana. Akeem Springs followed his shot and was rewarded with the winning layup. Nate Mason led all Minnesota scorers with 30 points. Jordan Murphy had his third straight double double and Amir Coffey continued to play like a veteran.
I’ll be honest, last night was incredibly sloppy. To me, the Gophers looked like a team playing at half pace. Perhaps the toll of the last week hurt their energy, but the team as a whole missed a lot of open opportunities on offense throughout the game. They also shot miserably, finishing with an effective field goal percentage of 43.5%. On the bright side, that was still better than Indiana, who was equally putrid on offense. Both teams were under a point per possession.
Fortunately for Minnesota, Nate Mason was straight unconscious for much of the first half, which is good because few other players were anywhere near 80% of their normal selves. It is not a coincidence that Mason’s return to being a top point guard has coincided with a four game winning streak. In many ways, the Gophers will go as far as Mason can take them. He is the only player on the team who can at any time create his own shot, and when he can be in attack mode is difficult to guard. He also talked some trash to the Indiana bench in front of Tom Crean.
Jordan Murphy appears to have unbroke himself, and we are all the better for it. The sophomore is playing within the offensive flow more, and is exerting his will on the defensive glass. He’s also fouling less. Last night he even made a three! Murphy finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds for his third straight double double.
Amir Coffey must have been bored not scoring in the first half because he put up 17 in the second to go along with seven rebounds. Uncharacteristically, Coffey finished with no assists and two turnovers. More in line with his character, the freshman hit several clutch shots down the stretch to keep the game close for Springs’s heroics at the end.
We said at the beginning of the year that Springs might shoot the Gophers out of a game, and up until the last moments of yesterday that seemed to be true. The senior finished 2-13 from the field, with most of those looks being good ones. Still, even when he was not shooting, Springs continued to play with energy and followed his own shot at the end. Remember kids, follow your shot.**
Pitino’s technical was completely deserved. Call this a bias, but I’m never a fan of coaches losing their minds at a player. If Pitino was screaming so much at Lynch that the ref thought he was yelling at a ref, he deserved a technical.
Eric Curry played fantastic defense on Thomas Bryant after Reggie Lynch fouled out. The freshmen also got the key tip out to Springs at the end of the game. He’s going to be excellent next year.
Eric Curry’s mom’s twitter is already excellent.
** Unless your coach is playing a style where everyone concedes offensive boards. Then get back on defense.
The Magic Number is 2.