Minnesota defeated Florida International University 89-62 at Williams Arena on Saturday. Gabe Kalscheur led all scorers with 23 and Daniel Oturu had the first 20 points and 20 rebounds game since Tom Kondla had 33 points and 23 rebounds at Kansas State on Dec. 1, 1966.
The Gophers decided to have a holdover from the Christmas holidays for the first five minutes of the game, letting the Panthers get out to a 6 points lead. At that point, Minnesota realized that they are a substantially better team than FIU, promptly went on a 14-3 run, and the game was never in doubt. That was a welcome relief because Minnesota did not shoot the ball well during this game. Outside of Oturu and Kalscheur, the rest of the team shot below 33% from the field and just 3-13 from behind the arc. There was going to be some reversion after the previous two games, but it was frustrating to watch wide open shots clang off the iron again.
A casual observer of the box score may wonder why the Gophers won so handily behind subpar shooting. The two part answer is that the Gophers made their foul shots and played lights out defense. Minnesota managed to get to the charity stripe all night, and convert every time but one. I am not sure when the last time the Gophers shot that well from the foul line with that many attempts was. On defense, Minnesota held FIU to 33% from the field and 21% from three point range. Both of those numbers would have been lower had the starters played the full game, but Richard Pitino smartly rested every starter for the final four minutes of the game.
Daniel Oturu had a historic night and his overall shooting percentage for the season went down because he was just 66% from the field. Oturu was always going to feast on this kind of competition, but his game keeps expanding night in and night out. Against FIU, he showed off two excellent step through moves to get easy layups.
Marcus Carr will get a triple double this season. He went for 17 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds against the Panthers. Carr was just 1-5 from behind the arc and had four turnovers, otherwise his statline would be even more impressive.
Sam Freeman and Isaiah Ihnen played! They also scored 11 points between them and made all of their foul shots. Ihnen in particular looked worthy of more minutes. I can see why Pitino has not played him much this season because his defensive rotations are a bit slow. That said, Ihnen has so much obvious potential that I hope he earns more playing time during the season.
Jarvis Demir, the combo forward went for 10 points, 5 assists, and five rebounds. Alihan Demir was just 2-8 from the field, while Omersa only made one of his three shots. FIU rudely blocked Omersa on a fast break otherwise I would be showing you a windmill dunk highlight about now. Instead, I can just present game highlights.