Minnesota lost to Iowa 86-71 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Gophers drop to 10-4 on the season and 3-4 in conference play. Both Gach and Marcus Carr both led the way for the Gophers with 13.
I expected that the Gophers would lose this game, probably by at least 4 possessions. For most of the first half, the Gophers exceeded my expectations, and there is a good argument that the team should have been up 4 or 5 points at half time instead of down 2. Unfortunately, the shooting was not there again on the road. It really wasn’t there to open the second half. Iowa jumped out ahead on an 18-4 run that the Gophers never realistically had a chance of closing. Minnesota was there at the end, down just 7 points at the 2:16 mark on a Gabe Kalscheur three point shot. Unfortunately, that would be the last points the Gophers scored for the game. Iowa finished the game on an 8-0 run.
Certainly the defensive performance left much to be desired. Iowa scored almost 1.2 points per possession, which is right around their average in conference play. Even now Gophers are getting smoked by back screens with no warning from their compatriots. However, the reason that Minnesota lost was that the wide open shots did not go in again.
Who knows what the problem with shooting on the road is for Minnesota, but whatever it is let’s hope it ends before the middle of January. Here is what the problem was not today. The failure to make shots was not because of a lack of good looks. Minnesota had a plentiful number of good, wide open looks. The problem was not ball movement. The Gophers generally passed the ball around effectively to find the open look. The problem was not player movement. While I would have liked to see more at times, the Gophers did a good job of filling positions against the zone. The problem was that the shots did not go in.
Minnesota was 10/34 from outside the arc and 15/35 from inside the arc. They had just 16 free throw attempts and made 11 of them. The first ratio is the worst ratio. As I have said multiple times this season, the Gophers functionally never lose if they shoot 37% or better from deep. Of the 34 three pointers that Minnesota attempted, well over 2⁄3 were good looks. Plenty of those looks were so open that the shooter could have taken a bow before firing.
Luka Garza is a very good player who also has become an expert at getting away with using his elbows to create space. No hate whatsoever. Up and coming bigs should be watching him and taking notes.
Gabe Kalscheur put on multiple 1v1 defensive clinics today. Again. There isn’t a better defender in the conference, and I will hear no objections to that claim.
Tre Williams had some solid minutes today, which was good to see because as the back half of the schedule rolls around Pitino is going to need to have two guards coming off the bench see success.
Minnesota finishes out the end of a brutal stretch of games against Michigan on Saturday at Williams Arena.