Minnesota rebounded from a bad loss at Illinois to beat a good Saint Louis team 90-82 at Williams Arena. The Gophers are now 7-1 on the season and finish undefeated in the non-conference slate. Marcus Carr led all scorers with 32 points.
Basketball is a simple game. The team that is more efficient on offense, turns the ball over less, and makes free throws usually wins. This game was no different. Minnesota put up almost 1.09 points per possession and had their best effective field goal percentage of the season (.583). Saint Louis is a good basketball team, and everyone should become the biggest Billikens’ fan for the rest of the season. How Minnesota got those shots was as important as them falling. The Gophers were able to catch and shoot in rhythm from deep, finishing the night 10-25 from distance. Minnesota also got to the foul line frequently. shooting almost one free throw for every field goal attempt. Such a performance is rather unheard of at the college level.
On defense, Minnesota avoided fouling and kept Saint Louis from shooting uncontested three point shots. The Billikens finished just 2-15 from distance.
Saint Louis pounded the offensive glass and wrecked havoc against the small lineups that Minnesota trotted out. While this game was never in doubt after the Gophers opened it up in the second half, the rebounding does need to improve. Guards often looked for leakouts instead of finding and bodying up.
Saint Louis’s last gasp comeback was greatly helped by late second half turnovers. The Gophers moved quicker than necessary against traps and put themselves in bad positions. 19 turnovers is too many turnovers.
On a positive note, Marcus Carr played like an all Big Ten point guard. Carr finished with 32 points on 8-15 shooting, seven assists, four steals, three rebounds, and just one turnover. He played the entire game (not ideal!), but Pitino did a decent job with time outs to get him extra rest.
Isaiah Ihnen had his best game as a Gopher according to Pitino, and I’m inclined to agree. Ihnen finished with a double double (10pts/10reb) as well as three blocks in 27 minutes. Continue to give him more minutes, especially if Brandon Johnson continues to look uncomfortable on the court.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. was 2-2 from distance and continues to happily shoot whenever he’s open. I am here for it.
Gabe Kalscheur made two three pointers and every single free throw attempt. He also did work against Jordan Goodwin, keeping the Saint Louis star from a bigger game.
Jarvis Omersa announced that he plans to opt out for the rest of the season due to COVID concerns. We wish Omersa well and hope that he decides to return to the team in less treacherous times.
Minnesota next plays a top 5 Iowa team on Christmas.