Minnesota defeated Indiana 84-63 at Williams Arena. The Gophers improve to 7-8 in conference play and the magic number is now 3. Jordan Murphy led all scorers with 23.
Let us now heap praise upon praise on Jordan Murphy. The obvious All Big Ten First Team player had his eighteenth double double on the season. He finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, had 3 assists, and just 1 foul. In the first half, Murphy played so well that the other four players on the court were not necessary. He’s the best power forward that Minnesota has had since McHale, and because he is so consistent I am not sure how many Gopher fans realize the chasm he will leave behind. Today was an excellent example of Murphy at his best, hustling to spots, setting hard screens, bullying defenders, and grabbing every rebound in his vicinity.
Admittedly, it helps that Indiana seems less interested in playing basketball than I do reading German. How there is any chance of that team being in the NCAA Tournament conversation at the moment is a mystery to me. At the same time, this is the precisely the opponent that good teams blow the barn doors off, and Minnesota did that in style. The Gophers made 12 of their 22 three pointers. Daniel Oturu hit a three. The Gophers had two three bank in. The rest of their attempts were all legitimately good shots. Gabe Kalscheur reverted to early year Gabe (the best Gabe and your mom’s favorite player) by hitting 6-8 from behind the arc. Amir Coffey was 3-6, including a beautiful step back off a killer cross to lose his defender. This will shock you dear reader, but it turns out basketball is much easier to play when shots fall from the outside. Among other reasons, there is little ability for the defense to pack the paint or send doubles at Murphy. Minnesota had 19 assists on 28 made baskets.
Four players were in double figures thanks to some garbage time baskets from Dupree McBrayer. The Gophers were winning by so much that Hunt Conroy played. Richard Pitino said that his team would play angry today after the loss to Nebraska, and the team did just that. They can still play their way into the tournament, though the road remains tough. Michigan next Thursday is not a must win, but it would be an exceedingly good win.
Amir Coffey had 18 points, but his biggest contribution on the night was shutting down Romeo Langford (with help from Archie Miller).
Isaiah Washington was out for the game with a lower body injury.