It wasn’t a public viewing but the Gophers got their first taste of high-stakes season action in a closed scrimmage against Iowa State in Ames on Saturday, as Minnesota beat the Cyclones 77-68 in overtime.
Surprised? I’ll admit I didn’t think the Gophers would have the cohesion to take down Iowa State on the road, especially this early in the season. But it’s a good start nonetheless.
First off, let’s be sure to take this game with a huge grain of salt. It’s a scrimmage, after all, and one that is basically the first real action the teams are seeing this season. That said, for a Minnesota team whose expectations are hard to pin down it’s at least an early indication that maybe they won’t be as overmatched as we think. The Cyclones were a tournament team last year and are expected to finish around the middle of the Big 12, so taking them down isn’t too shabby.
And if you’re not willing to concede that this game means anything, at least we can say it was a good test and directionally see how some of the guys performed and who was getting court time.
For instance Payton Willis contributed 12 points and hit two three-pointers in the overtime. Willis has seen his stock rise in recent weeks to the point that he might even start to begin the season. It’s great to see him perform!
Daniel Oturu had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. For a guy who the Gophers need to play in the stratosphere this year, having that kind of performance is awesome.
Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur led all scorers with 17 points each, while Kalscheur knocked down four of his eleven three-point attempts.
The freshman class was fairly silent, but the defense held the Cyclones to just 31% from the field. The Gophers committed 20 turnovers and 22 fouls, but we’ll chalk that up to early season disorganization.
Secret scrimmages aren’t new to the Gophers. They defeated Creighton in a scrimmage in Omaha last season and also lost at Iowa State in a scrimmage in 2014.
For a bit of background, many teams schedule what’s known as a “secret scrimmage” vs. a similar-level opponent. Recaps and stats are released after the game but the schools don’t allow fans or media to attend.
Marcus has a nice, in-depth breakdown of the scrimmage here. Here is the official box score from the game:
Meanwhile, Minnesota kicks things off in person with an exhibition against Southwest Minnesota State next Monday. We’re getting close, folks!