Minnesota lost to Michigan State in the Barn 70-52. With the loss, the Gophers drop to 5-5 in conference play and 11-9 on the season. Daniel Oturu led all Minnesota scorers with 19.
I cannot fathom how frustrating it must be for this team to watch good looks rim out over and over again. I am also honestly unsure what Richard Pitino should have done today to change that. Michigan State is a great team, extremely physical (and flop heavy today), who will make teams work on the offensive end. Even so, 1/15 from distance in the first half is unacceptable if every shot was contested. That was not the case. The Gophers had a multitude of open looks refuse to go down, brick out, and simply miss everything in the first half. For the game, the Gophers had an effective field goal percentage of 32%. There is no other word besides pathetic for that level of shooting.
Now, while I am displeased by the shooting, most of the shots were wide open. Nevertheless, the Gophers fell in love with distance shooting to their own detriment. They put up shots early in the shot clock that were unnecessary instead of trying to get Daniel Oturu involved early and often. Oturu ended up with 19 points on 7-14 shooting, and scored more or less every time he had post position on the low block. Credit Michigan State for clogging lanes and keeping Oturu away, but massive negative credit for Minnesota choosing to play into that defensive strategy. The Gophers consistently had poor angles on offense, and were often content to over dribble in the back court.
Everyone outside of Daniel Oturu (with a minor exception of Gabe Kalscheur) was miserable on the offensive end. Marcus Carr attempted 14 shots, made three of them on his way to 11 points. The Spartans played high hedges on Carr to keep him going laterally, and the Gophers never made them pay for it with quick passing. Carr often committed to excessive dribbling around the perimeter that allowed the Spartans to recover on their rotations as well.
If there is any positive to this game it is that Minnesota’s defensive effort was mostly strong until the game was out of hand due to the horrendous offensive performance. Oh, and this was not a must win game for the tournament. There is no movement in the magic number, which remains at 7 for clearly in and 6 for a bubbly in.
Payton Willis had his worst game as a Gopher. He’ll be better the rest of the season.
Minnesota was 5-28 from distance. Carr, Kalscheur, and Willis combined for 4/21. You cannot win when the back court cannot shoot.
I liked Tre Williams’s energy a lot in this game, and I thought he deserved to play more minutes.
Thanks to both coaches emptying the benches, Bryan Greenlee, Sam Freeman, and Isaiah Ihnen all saw minutes.