Minnesota lost to Maryland 77-66 at College Park. With the loss, Minnesota drops to 14-7 on the season. Jordan Murphy led all Gophers with 19 points.
The game was a battle of the depleted squads. Maryland and Minnesota are both without key starters, though for different reasons. As a result, what was potentially a marquee matchup at the beginning of the season turned into a rather poor facsimile of a good basketball game. The Gophers started out by missing a number of shots around the rim while making three pointers to keep it close. Maryland was similarly putrid from the field in the first half. At the end of the first half, it was a one point game.
The second half was a different story. Maryland opened up by making six of its first seven shots of the half and the game way never really in doubt. The Gophers were unable to get any real offense going for much of the second half, apart from a garbage time run. Maryland ended up with an effective field goal percentage of 64% for two reasons. First, the Gophers cannot defend a high pick and roll. Yes, the Gophers are missing two starters and a key reserve, and one would hope that the defense would be better with the starters than the reserves. With that said, the Gophers have struggled against high pick and rolls all season. At this point, the problem falls squarely on the coaching staff.
Second, as a direct result of being unable to defend the high pick and roll, the Gophers left Maryland shooters wide open behind the three point line. Minnesota’s heavy regression in three point defense this year has been astounding. Kevin Huerter, Maryland’s deadly three point shooter, was four of five from behind the arc. Only one of those shots was contested. Can you guess which?
On offense, Minnesota once again struggled. The Gophers finished with an effective field goal percentage of 41%. Quite a few missed shots were from six feet and in. 3M of Mason/Murphy/McBrayer finished 15-45 for the night. Mason played all 40 minutes as well. Davonte Fitzgerald was a surprising bright spot on offense, and the only player to have a field goal percentage above 50%.
Jamir Harris started his second consecutive game and gave the Gophers some offense to start. The freshman is not afraid to shoot, which is good because much of the bench seems to be. Harris should probably get the start going forward unless there is an obvious matchup problem.
Isaiah Washington played fewer minutes than Gaston Diedhiou. At this point, we have to begin to wonder what is going on. Nate Mason playing 40 minutes makes little sense when there is a point guard on the bench, but Washington has not earned Pitino’s trust.
End on a good note, the Gophers shot 82% from the line.
Minnesota next travels to Madison Square Garden to play a home game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. That is the dumbest sentence I’ve had to write in awhile.