Minnesota defeated Ohio State 62-59 to win in Columbus for the first time since 2005. With the win, the Gophers improved to 5-4 in conference and 11-8 on the season. Marcus Carr led all scorers with 21 points.
On a night of physical play, the Gophers managed to successfully come out with the win because of three factors. First, Minnesota made several excellent half-time adjustments on both ends of the court. On offense, Minnesota found multiple ways to get the ball into Daniel Oturu closer to the basket as well as open driving lanes for Marcus Carr. While in free fall, Ohio State is an elite defensive team, with size and length at every position. In the first half, they used both to full advantage to keep the Gophers shooting low percentage looks away from the rim. In the second half, the Gophers improved by getting effective ball movement to the weak side to force movement from the Buckeyes.
On defense, the Gophers held the Buckeyes to just 22 points in the second half. Major credit to every player on the court who dug hard on rotations to cut off driving lanes. Daniel Oturu once again shut down Kaleb Wesson (2 points on 1-10 shooting), and Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis did yeoman work on Duane Washington, CJ Walker, and DJ Carton.
Of course, no road win would be complete without some heroics. Take it away Marcus Carr.
.@m5cinco called game. pic.twitter.com/24taseTyca— Minnesota Men's Basketball (@GopherMBB) January 24, 2020
Several takeaways here:
- Look at that crossover to completely shake the primary defender.
- Ohio State had a good contest.
- Point 2 didn’t matter at all because that was shot was pure the second the ball left Carr’s fingers.
Richard Pitino’s teams have always done well when he has a primary scorer at the point guard position who he trusts to take shots late. Or, as Daniel Oturu put it.
MARCUS CARR‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️— GTM DAN (@oturu65) January 24, 2020
Some bad news, 49% effective field goal percentage is not good. Minnesota went over six minutes in the first half without a field goal as well. To be only done single digits was a testament to team defense and Ohio State turnovers.
Isaiah Ihnen played for five minutes in this ball game and I am still impressed by Pitino’s decision to bring him in during the first half. The freshman scored a nice layup off an Oturu feed, and did not look like a deer in the headlights on defense.
Gabe Kalscheur scored in double figures and was 3-7 from distance. It’s not your mom’s favorite player Gabe yet, but it is progress. If Kalscheur can return to his freshman year shooting form, Minnesota will get a critical third option for the end of conference stretch.
The magic number is six if you like playing with fire on Selection Sunday, and seven if you want to be comfortable. Minnesota controls their destiny because a) lots of season left and b) apart from Northwestern and Nebraska every single remaining game is at least a Quad 2 or better.