Minnesota defeated North Florida 80-71 yesterday at Williams Arena. With the win the Gophers move to 9-2 on the season. Jordan Murphy led all scorers with 20 points.
Yesterday was almost certainly the trappiest of trap games. Every player who did not have a final in the next two days along with the coaching staff was scheduled to get on a plane to attend Tayra McFarlane’s (Dupree McBrayer’s mother) funeral after the game. The Gophers had not played in several days and several players continue to deal with nagging injuries. North Florida, while in no way a good basketball team, had lots of returning talent and upperclassmen. As a result, more than ever, win and no one get injured was the rule to the day.
The Gophers struggled mightily from the field, which is becoming a tiresome reality for this ball club. They finished 1-15 on the night from behind the three point line, and had an effective field goal percentage of just 39.6%. The technical term for that percentage is an expletive that our editorial standards prevent me from using. Where the Gophers were saved yesterday was on the offensive boards. Minnesota rebounded almost 50% of their misses.
Fortunately, a win is a win, and the only reason anyone would remember this game in March is if Minnesota had lost. Put it into the ether and start the holiday break.
Gabe Kalscheur has played so well this season that it’s been reasonable to forget he is just a freshman. Today he had a freshman game to end all freshman games. Kalscheur was 0-10 on the night, 0-8 from 3, and committed three turnovers. He also was frequently worked on defense by North Florida, including being on the receiving end of a nasty crossover. Kalscheur has struggled with his shot the last two games, and this is some cause for concern going forward because the Gophers desperately need a consistent outside shooter.
Isaiah Washington on the other hand had his best game in a Minnesota jersey. The sophomore finished with 13 assists, which is second all time for a single game. He should have had closer to 15 if the rest of his team could shoot. Washington also put in 14 points on 4-8 shooting. The latter is a tad unfair because he was forced to throw two late shot clock heaves that brought down the percentage. A pass first Washington is a legitimately good player. Your writer hopes to see that version exclusively going forward.
Jordan Murphy continued his boring “get 20 points and 18 boards because that’s what Jordan Murphy does” series of games. He added in four blocks and unfortunately six turnovers. Murphy continues to be the candidate to get the pitchforks out in the event he’s not unanimous First Team All Big-Ten.
Daniel Oturu put together a solid 26 minutes on his way to a double double (13 points, 11 rebounds). Oturu still needs another move on offense, but on defense did a much better job yesterday of staying on the floor and not giving up positioning.