Minnesota lost to Michigan State on Thursday at the Breslin Center 74-58. With the loss, the Gophers drop to 8-7 on the season and 2-3 in Big Ten play. Daniel Oturu led all scorers with 22.
The Gophers held serve against Michigan State in the first half, going into the locker room down just four points. That scoreline belied a deep shooting problem from the back-court that continued in the second half. As a team, Minnesota finished the game average .86 points per possession, with an effective field goal percentage of 43.2%. Those numbers are heinous.
Part of the reason for those numbers is that Michigan State is a very good, physical basketball team that makes life difficult for opponents. The other part is that the Gophers missed a bunch of wide open shots, and attempted several poor ones. Minnesota was just 5-20 from three point range, and at least 4 of those misses were wide open. Gabe Kalscheur, Payton Willis, and Marcus Carr were a combined 3-14 from distance and 8-27 from the field. Those numbers from the backcourt will make it difficult to beat anyone in the conference, much less the 3rd best team in the country via KenPom.
In addition to poor shooting, the Gophers were badly outrebounded by the Spartans. Michigan State rebounded 44% of their misses en route to winning the rebounding battle 45-28. The Gophers had bad positioning on the defensive glass, but the Spartans also regularly won the physicality battle against Minnesota’s frontcourt. On defense, Michigan State prevented Minnesota from driving to the basket, and forced 11 turnovers. The Spartans also benefited from Marcus Carr picking up a (probably phantom) fourth foul just two minutes into the second half. Carr’s departure meant that Payton Willis had to slide into the point guard spot, and the chemistry between Willis, Kalscheur, and Williams was not strong. That should not be surprising because Willis is still working back to his early season form following his foot injury.
Another top big in the conference, another win for Daniel Oturu. Oturu finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Xavier Tillman made him work for that, as Oturu had to take 19 attempts, so this was a much less efficient performance than we have seen throughout the year. Nevertheless, we have reached a point where 20+/10+ performances are a normal result.
Apart from the Breslining of Carr’s fourth foul, the officiating was surprisingly good. I only comment on this because a) Breslin Center and b) the foul disparity between the two teams might suggest home cooking. That was not the case. Michigan State was just better at getting downhill and drawing contact.
Minnesota was 7-8 from the free throw line. Boo only taking eight attempts all night. Yeah, once again shooting well from the charity stripe. The Gophers have shot 92% from the line over their last five games.