Just a few days removed from one of the most disappointing performances he’s had as a Golden Gopher, local standout junior Swiss Army Knife Amir Coffey decided enough was enough.
Perhaps after reading some much needed bulletin board material, Coffey tied his career high in points and thoroughly dominated the proceedings in Evanston at a morgue-like Welsh-Ryan Arena. Aggressively attacking the basket, crashing the boards, and finding wide open teammates when collapsed upon, Amir put together the type of game he is capable of on a night-to-night basis. The result was a double-digit 62-50 victory on the road in the Big Ten.
It may seem incredibly reductive, but that is really all that needs to be said about this game. Astoundingly no other Gopher player outside of Coffey had an offensive rating above 100 per KenPom. He played all 40 minutes, recorded the first double double of his college career by collecting 12 rebounds along with his 32 points (3 of 6 from three!!!!!!!!!!!), and had his finger prints all over every facet of the game. This is what games against inferior opponents should look like for Amir Coffey.
Freshman center Daniel Oturu chipped in 6 points and 10 rebounds, much-maligned senior Dupree McBrayer collected 4 steals, and freshman guard Gabe Kalscheur continued his scorching shooting from outside the arc by hitting 1 of 2 from three-point land.
Beyond that, the stat lines on both sides were rather unsightly. The Gophers had a 12 point lead at halftime and went on a fun stretch in the second half that was punctuated by a McBrayer steal, a crazy overhead-from-half-court lob pass to Coffey, and an emphatic dunk. But outside of that sequence, it almost seemed as though both teams slept walked through the second half.
But that should be just fine for Gopher fans who have seen their fair share of late game excitement turn into devastating losses. Maintaining the double digit margin allowed for the maroon and gold faithful to avoid the Pepto-Bismol for the evening. The win keeps Minnesota’s tenuous NCAA Tournament hopes alive and well and sets up an absolutely massive home date with a conference champion hopeful squad in the Purdue Boilermakers on Tuesday evening at the Barn.
No one really played all that well besides Coffey during this game. If Jordan Murphy, Oturu, Kalscheur, and McBrayer can raise their level and Amir maintains his aggressive play and hits some outside shots, it should be an interesting end to the season with this fickle bubble squad that has provided both hope and head-scratching devastation.