Minnesota lost to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center 66-60. With the loss, the Gophers drop to 2-7 in conference play and 11-7 on the season. Payton Willis led all scorers with 17 points.
The first half was a sluggish affair, and neither team shot the ball well. The Gophers regularly settled or were forced into contested mid-range and deep twos. Minnesota once again had more turnovers than three point makes in a half. Payton Willis and Jamison Battle combined for just seven points on 3-12 shooting. Outside of a solid Eric Curry offensive performance, there was little to speak positively about on the offensive side of the floor. Defensively, the Gophers did a reasonably good job on Johnny Davis, but left Brad Davison open for several easy looks from the basket. At the half, the Gophers were down 32-25.
After a poor start to the second half, the Gophers brought the game back to equality at the under 12 timeout with a 12-2 run spurred by several Payton Willis baskets. Willis has a series of moves that would make every old timer at the Y jealous. I imagine his “being the best player on a Power 5 D1 team” athleticism would also make the old timers jealous, but I’m spitballing here. Wisconsin then answered over the next four minutes to bring the lead back to six at the under 8. Minnesota answered back to tie the game again with 2:23 to play, but would not score again in regulation. A Johnny Davis bucket sealed the game for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin had 13 points off Minnesota turnovers, and a point differential of 9 off turnovers, which is the main macro story line for the game. The Gophers gave away too many possessions, especially in the first half. When neither team is particularly efficient from the field, those give aways will loom large.
Minnesota came back in the second half in part because of the aforementioned Payton Willis, and in part because they briefly could not miss from three. However, for the whole game I was not impressed with the Gophers’ offense. The Badgers were able to keep Minnesota away from the lane throughout the game, and the Gophers settled for too many shots early in the clock.
I have great respect for Marcus Fuller, but the article today in the Strib ain’t it man. Ain’t it at all.