Minnesota threw away an extremely winnable game against Rutgers to lose 76-72. The Gophers have now lost three in a row and are 4-7 in conference play. Marcus Carr led all scorers with 18 points.
In the words of Eleanor Shellstrop, the last 2 minutes and twenty-two seconds of game action were bullshirt. Following a Both Gach layup to increase the lead to 70-66, Minnesota was torched on defense, traveled, was torched on defense again, made two free throws, was torched on defense again. Then Marcus Carr had two of the worst late-game offensive possessions I have seen in ages.**
The loss at the end spoiled a solid game for a team struggling to find its footing on the offensive side of the ball. The Gophers remain a decrepit shooting team going 26/64 from the field and 6/21 from distance with at least three air balls. However, they pulled down 14 offensive boards and went 82% from the foul line. On defense, Minnesota turned Rutgers over 14 times. Before the last two minutes, this recap was mostly about what the team needed to work on to build into a strong February.
It’s one game, and the loss doesn’t change much in terms of post-season play. But it was a winnable game. More than that, Minnesota should have won this game even for as badly as they played on offense. As such, tonight’s loss is hugely disappointing.
The missed threes were terrible but complaining about them is like complaining about breathing oxygen at this stage of the season. Missing several layups and four-footers, on the other hand, is a new and very not fun addition to the offensive arsenal.
Tre Williams and Both Gach both gave great effort at the wing position. Now, if only one or both of them could find their shooting form.
Liam Robbins briefly went ham late in the second half. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds on 6-9 shooting from the field. Nice.
Before the unfortunate end of the game, Marcus Carr looked to be making a return to form. 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds are great numbers from a starting point guard.
** He was also fouled while in the traps each time, but that doesn’t change the game’s outcome, and the refs were letting both teams play with body blocks all night. Besides, everyone knows the trap is coming anyway. The players and the coach have to make smarter decisions in the late game offense, especially with whatever quick hitters were planned.