Minnesota made easy work of Oklahoma State in a neutral site game in Tulsa, winning 86-66. Gabe Kalscheur set a career high with 34 points to lead all scorers.
It is rare when a twenty point win is actually deceptively close because Minnesota more or less went into a shell at the four minute mark. The lead was as large as 28 points, and could have easily been closer to 35 or 40 had the Gophers kept their foot down. Unsurprisingly, the offensive performance came as a result of great shooting. Minnesota had an effective field goal percentage of 68%, which is absurd. The Gophers were shooting almost 70% from the field, without any adjustments for three point shots made. On defense, Minnesota forced 15 Oklahoma State turnovers and held the Pokes to 42% shooting from the field. That overall number was much lower before the Gophers got lazy with five minutes to go.
Hey remember Gabe Kalscheur, the player who couldn’t miss last season? You’d be forgiven if you had thought that player had been left the team. Kalscheur’s shooting woes have been the biggest story line of this young season, most notably during the Iowa game. Today, the old Gabe returned. Your mom’s favorite play Gabe. The Gabe who you are surprised when a shot is missed Gabe. Kalscheur was 11-14 from the field and 7-9 from three point range. He was also perfect from the foul line. Against Ohio State, Minnesota used a career performance by Marcus Carr to blast the doors off an opponent. Today, that performance came from Kalscheur.
Here I should note the absence of Payton Willis, who has been a great performer for the Gophers. Going into the game, my colleague mentioned that Willis’s injury would hurt Minnesota. After today’s game, all I can say is that Willis’s return will make the Gophers a fearsome opponent as long as Kalscheur and Carr play well. The offense relies on the back-court making shots when those shots are open.
I almost wish Daniel Oturu would not play so well so that he has an obvious choice to return next year. 22 points on 10-12 shooting, eight rebounds, and three blocks is too good. Oturu exhibited an array of fancy footwork moves in the post, drives from the top of the key, and a midrange game tonight. If he had made the only three point shot he attempted, I would have imagined he would have declared for the draft in the parking lot.
Michael Hurt had seven points off the bench and looked like a senior leader on the court. Tonight was a good matchup for Hurt, but I have been impressed at his increased confidence to shoot without hesitation when he is open.
Alihan Omersa had an up and down game. The combined 4 man had 11 points and 10 rebounds, though Demir had a far better game than Omersa.
Tre Williams started in place of the injured Willis, and showed a lot of confidence. He did not show a lot of good shooting, finishing with four points on 1-5 shooting. I like Williams, and the benefit, to the extent there is one, of Willis’s injury is that Williams will get additional minutes to develop in game.
Isaiah Ihnen played. It was for only two minutes, but hey at least Pitino is playing the freshmen.