Minnesota secured a hard fought win against a good Penn State team at Williams arena 75-69. With the win, the Gophers are now 4-3 in conference play and 10-7 on the season. Marcus Carr led all scorers with 27 points.
The Big Ten used to have an ad campaign called “This is Big Ten Basketball.” In the future, they can just use highlights from this game. Two tenaciously defensive teams, extreme physicality, offsetting technicals, complete inability to make a shot from beyond 12 feet, confusing officiating that leaves both teams feeling screwed. This. is. Big. Ten. Basketball.
Minnesota and Penn State traded shots throughout the first half. Penn State shot 60% in the first half. In the second half, Penn State jumped out to an eight point lead with a bit over 17 minutes remaining. For the next twelve minutes of game action, the Gophers did not allow Penn State to make a single field goal. Credit to the coaching staff and the players for making and executing adjustments on the defensive floor. The Gophers held Penn State to just 27% from the field in the second half. Minnesota ran Penn State’s shooters off the three point line, kept the ball out of the post, and forced Penn State into taking multiple bad shots.
On offense, the Gophers were less efficient than they should have been, but that is a credit to Penn State’s toughness and scheme. For the game, Minnesota shot just 38% from the field and 25% from distance. Of the shots from distance, the Gophers missed five wide open three point shots. Those numbers are heinous. Where the Gophers shined was on the offensive glass, picking up 18 offensive rebounds for second chance points. Games like tonight at home are critical to win, particularly when the overall offense is not there.
Even with the overall poor shooting night, Daniel Oturu once again completely outplayed his competition and Marcus Carr ran circles around defenders. The last few recaps I have described Oturu as being All Big Ten, but that is too low. He’s playing like an All American right now. Oturu finished with 24 points on 8-14 shooting (9-14 from the foul line), 14 rebounds, and two blocks. The sophomore scored from everywhere, including a critical three pointer late to seal the win.
In the backcourt, Marcus Carr continued to be stellar. Carr had 27 points on an inefficient 7-17 from the field, but 10-11 from the free throw line, while adding nine assists and six rebounds. At some point this year the sophomore will have a triple double. Carr has done a great job of the last month of finding creases in the defense and attacking vertically. He has also done all of this by playing big minutes. Once again, Carr played the entire game.
Alihan Omersa was excellent as a combined four man. Demir made some key baskets in the second half. His improvement over the last six weeks has been fun to watch, and with the backcourt not named Marcus Carr struggling from the field has emerged as a third scoring option. Omersa was critical in limiting Lamar Stevens, but unfortunately fouled out again. The athleticism is there, and as his game continues to emerge Omersa will turn into a nice college four man.
Gabe Kalscheur had seven rebounds and six points. This snakebite can end anytime now. I feel for Kalscheur, and look forward to how good this team could be when he returns to form.
Tre Williams will be a great defender in three years. I love his hustle and positioning on the defensive end.