It wasn’t Minnesota’s night. The Gophers looked like a team that had played a unique neutral site game barely prior 43 hours later on the road four states away and Ohio State took advantage as they cruised to a 79-59 win in Columbus.
At the end of the day the story is pretty simple. Minnesota got out muscled on the boards and wore out down the stretch. Post-game, Coach Pitino called out the fact that the team needs to be tougher to win on the road in the Big Ten. Overall the Gophers were out-rebounded 42-33, giving up 13 offensive boards leading to 20 second chance points.
Tired legs were an issue for Minnesota. Ohio State turned this to their advantage on turnovers (where they outscored MN 23-10 despite the Gophers only having one more TO). They also exploited the fatigue from behind the arc, moving the ball around to find wide open shooters when the Gophers couldn’t recover. In the second half Ohio State shot 70% from 3 (they were 41.2% overall). Meanwhile the Gophers did not make a single trey (0-13 on the night) and saw their free throw % take a big dip from 72.7% in the first half to 52.4% in the second half. The short turnaround isn’t an excuse, but it was clearly a factor tonight.
The one big positive for the Gophers was the success they had in transition. Minnesota outscored Ohio State 17-10 in fast break points and it’s something they could have looked to exploit further had they not been as run down as they were.
In the end, it’s not the start anyone wanted for the Big Ten season, but it’s also only one game. Minnesota will clearly benefit from the return of Eric Curry (something Pitino also noted in his postgame presser). Until then, the Gophers need to get tougher and find ways to limit their scoring droughts.
- Pitino hates the early Big Ten games. HATES them. That said, he also noted the Gophers would have lost in similar fashion had this game been played in February instead of December.
- Jordan Murphy passed 1000 rebounds tonight, making him just the 14th player in Big Ten history to reach the mark.
- Minnesota doesn’t play another game on the road in 2018. They close out the calendar with 5 games in The Barn (Nebraska and four cupcakes)
- The Gophers have lost 7 of their last 8 to the Buckeyes.
- Hat tip to the OSU SID for this great stat pull...the last time a Big Ten team went o’fer from 3 point range against Ohio State was Michigan in 1992. Yes, you read that right, NINETEEN NINETY TWO (3/3/92 to be exact). The last time a team from any league completed this dubious accomplishment was something called Lamar on 12/20/11.
Minnesota in Columbus means I got to take pictures! Here are some of my favorites.