Minnesota rebounded after a frustrating road loss at Illinois to make quick work of Wisconsin 70-52. With the win, the Gophers return to 6-6 in Big Ten play and 12-10 on the season. Payton Willis led all scorers with 21 points.
The Gophers win ball games when Daniel Oturu gets help. Oturu has been so good this year, that there is a tendency to forget a) how good and b) that he cannot win games all by himself. The sophomore won yet another battle with a top big in the conference. Oturu had 17 points and 14 rebounds to go along with four blocks and two assists. He ended up fouling out of the game, the first time that has happened this year.
Normally Oturu fouling out would be a major problem for Minnesota. In their losses, they have struggled mightily to find a second scorer much less a third. Fortunately, Payton Willis returned from injury and returned to his early season form. Willis is a Swiss Army knife player, but I am not going to pretend that I want him to be anything other than a scorer. Against Wisconsin, he shot 5-7 from distance, 7-10 on the night, while also picking up five rebounds and two steals. Willis by himself nearly had as many made threes as Minnesota over the last three games. That speaks volumes about how miserable the Gophers have shot from distance, and how much better they are when those shots fall.
For the game, the Gophers were 9/22 from distance. Importantly, those shots were all within the flow of the offense. Minnesota attacked the rim regularly on their way to 24 points in the paint in the first half. Marcus Carr’s floaters were falling for most of the night.
The magic number is 5
I refuse to say anything negative about a win against the Badgers. Were I to say something negative, I might discuss the foot off the gas over the last 11 minutes of the second half. The game was well over at that point, but the Gophers should have done better to kill this game off. I wanted to see Bryan Greenlee for four minutes.
The Badgers shot an effective field goal percentage of 34%. Minnesota’s defensive rotations played a large part in that. I have said privately to other blog writers that the Gophers respond much better on defense when shots fall on offense. This was a good game to use as evidence.
Isaiah Ihnen is now coming in second off the bench when Demir needs a rest while Jarvis Omersa has moved to backing up Oturu at the five. Ihnen looks much better on the defensive end. He is also a pure chucker so far, and I am here for it.
Gabe Kalscheur went 3/8 from distance, with one that went in and out. Much better shooting.