Minnesota defeated Texas A&M 69-64 to win their first game of the Vancouver Invitational. With the win the Gophers improve to 3-0 on the season. Texas A&M falls to 1-3.
Let’s get this out of the way since this wrap up had a bit of a different flavor with about two minutes left to play. Richard Pitino has talked ad nauseum about the 95% plays, and the Gophers scored a miserable grade in that department tonight. Minnesota’s bigs allowed thirteen offensive rebounds, most of them in the second half. The guards were careless in rotations and contesting A&M’s shooters, who should have made more threes than they did.
So why did Minnesota win? For one, Minnesota was clearly the superior team based on talent. For as rough as the early season will be on Daniel Oturu, he will be an absolute beast at the center position. Jordan Murphy remains as good as ever, and it is a testament to his consistency that I was shocked he did not record a double-double tonight (14 points, 7 rebounds) even though he sat on the bench in foul trouble for much of the game.
Amir Coffey had an awful first 38 minutes. The junior had six turnovers to just two assists, and for most of the second half I was pining for Jelly to come in and play point. Then in the final two minutes, Coffey proved why he’s both a leader on this team and a player I’d pick awfully high in the “crunch time” draft. He made several critical free throws to seal the game.
For another, Minnesota showed a considerable amount of fight and resilience when the game started to get lopsided. The Gophers had 18 turnovers on the night. They lost as many 50/50 balls as they won. Several players committed strangely silly fouls. And yet, with all of the sloppiness, I was never that worried that the team was going to lose. I don’t know how good Texas A&M is going to be this season. Based on the outing today, not tremendous is my impression. Nonetheless, these are the games that Minnesota lost last season. Tonight, their leaders stepped up in key moments.
Gabe Kalscheur continues to be your favorite player that you didn’t know was your favorite player. The freshman had a stat line of 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and the biggest defensive play of the night to get a turnover and seal the win for Minnesota. He was only 40% from the three point line, but merely having a credible threat on the floor from deep makes Minnesota’s team better. His defense has been fantastic and he was correctly one of the players out on the floor in the last minute and thirty seconds of the game. There are not many higher compliments than that for a freshman.
Brock Stull played and knocked down two threes at critical moments in the game. Having a player to provide offense off the bench from deep will be a key asset.
Jelly was mostly good Jelly tonight. He took a lot of shots, most of which didn’t go in, but he ran the point well and kept the turnovers down. It also was not his fault that the recipients of his alley oops had concrete for hands tonight.
Dupree McBrayer had a very quiet 10 points tonight. McBrayer will need to be more efficient on the offensive side of the ball going forward. A positive is that McBrayer is moving his feet well on defense and seems far more engaged on that side of the floor than in previous years.
The free throw shooting was horrendous tonight. 13-24 is unacceptable against any team, but especially bad when in a tight ball game against a physical team like Texas A&M.
Richard Pitino’s quarter zip is as the kids would say swag. I would like to purchase one, but am somehow unable to because Goldy’s Locker Room refuses to let me have nice things. This is the only sports social movement I care about, and should be brought up to the Fan Advisory Board, Mark Coyle instead of that foolish email about how the coaching staff of some team is bad, and anyone else you can think of in order to make that happen. Heck, trend it on twitter #QuarterZip4UStreet
The uniforms were awful, but since they won I don’t care. Those uniforms should not see regular action.