Minnesota lost yet again on the road, this time at Indiana 82-72. With the loss, the Gophers fall to 13-9 on the season and 6-9 in conference play. Eight of those nine losses are on the road. Marcus Carr and Jamal Mashburn both led the Gophers with 19 points.
The big news happened before the game. Gabe Kalscheur is out indefinitely with a broken hand that he suffered in practice. With Liam Robbins still nursing a sprained ankle, my expectation was that this game would not be a fine defensive performance. Minnesota proved me right. Indiana was 58% from the field and 57% from distance. In the second half, the Hoosiers started by making five of their first seven three point shots. At home or on the road, that kind of defensive effort will never get it done. Then again, Minnesota has been putrid on the defensive end during road games all season. Perhaps the whiteboard at the Barn just works better for diagramming defensive coverages.
What killed the Gophers in this game was poor shooting down the stretch. Minnesota and Indiana were tied at 55 at the 8:17 mark in the second half. The Gophers would not score a point for the next three minutes, and would not make a field goal attempt for close to the next six minutes. During that time Indiana went on an 18-2 run. With the game functionally out of reach, Minnesota’s offense kicked into high gear to score 13 points in three minutes to lose the game by 10. For the game, the Gophers were 4/20 from distance and 40% from the field overall. They also went 20-29 from the charity stripe, so a miserable day of shooting all around.
The magic number remains unchanged, and the number of games to hit it are dwindling.
Minnesota is a worse team without Gabe Kalscheur. That said, I was pleased with Tre Williams and Jamal Mashburn’s performances. Both players were willing to drive to the basket with a directness that made them difficult to guard. Pitino started Mashburn and I expect that to hold for the rest of the season.
The offsetting flagrant fouls in the first half is one of the dumbest calls I’ve seen in years.