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Minnesota beats Northwestern 77-68

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NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota defeated Northwestern at the Barn tonight to win 77-68. The Gophers improve to 8-6 on the season and 2-2 in conference play. Daniel Oturu led all scorers with 19 points.

The Gophers began the game cold. Northwestern played almost exclusively zone defense to keep the Gophers out of the paint. Minnesota responded early with lots of long three point shots. They were a bit passive in attacking the weak spots of the zone, and allowed Northwestern to dictate tempo. Fortunately, the trio of Payton Willis, Gabe Kalscheur, and Tre Williams each made a three point shot to put the Gophers ahead for good.

In the second half, Minnesota was up by as many as 23 points, capped by a great steal and fast break dunk from Tre Williams.

The Gophers were much more decisive against the zone for 13 of the 20 minutes of the second half. Minnesota let up a bit on the defensive end to allow Northwestern to briefly claw back into the game. While there was never a time that I was worried about a comeback, some of the effort on the defensive end will make a great film review session.

Notes

Daniel Oturu continued to play like a first round draft pick. Oturu had 19 points, 16 rebounds, and a career best 5 blocks. He also added three assists. Against Northwestern, Oturu expected to dominate against man defense, but also found lots of ways to score against the zone.

Tre Williams had his best game as a Gopher. Williams had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Payton Willis’s absence due to injury has forced Williams to play more minutes, which has been helpful for his development.

Jarvis Omersa is athletic.

Shooting from the floor was a bit of a woof. The Gophers were 8-29 from three point range (including just 4-12 on wide open threes) and 25-61 from the field for the game. On the plus side, Minnesota was perfect from the free throw line. Marcus Carr by himself finished 10-10.