Minnesota lost 69-53 to DePaul at Williams Arena. The Gophers drop to 2-1 on the season. Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 19 points.
The first half of basketball made my eyes bleed. Not literally like the villain in Casino Royale, but a figurative wave like the elevator scene in the Shining. Minnesota entered the locker room down 12 points. If the Blue Demons could make threes, they would have easily doubled that number. Pharrel Payne was fantastic, going 5-5 from the field and adding two rebounds and an assist (three turnovers are not great, but you take what you get). Every other member of the Gophers combined to shoot 3-30 in the first half. 3-30! In a real game! Dawson Garcia had two shots that were air-balled with such intensity that I was worried he broke his hand and did not tell anyone. DePaul regularly pulled away Minnesota’s rim protection on defense and then exploited a significant mismatch at the small forward position to come away with eight easy points. The Blue Demons also had as many offensive rebounds as Minnesota had defensive rebounds in the first half. Sub-optimal!
A fair question from the first half was why were the Gophers so putrid at shooting? One reason is that the most common lineup of the half had Minnesota playing functionally four-on-five on the offensive end. DePaul promptly clogged the lane with an aggressive no-middle strategy and was content to give up wide-open shots to certain Gophers. Everyone pray for Jamison Battle to return as soon as possible because that nonsense does not work in the world where he plays.
The second half was more of the same on defense, and slightly better on offense. Consequently, DePaul had a 49-31 lead at the under 14. The Gophers battled back with a 7-0 to cut the lead to 12 at the under 8 mark. Pharrel Payne continued to beast, while Dawson Garcia started to make some shots, and Joshua Ola-Joseph provided athleticism and another rim attacker. Unfortunately, while the Gophers briefly cut the game to single digits they could not make enough defensive stops to reel DePaul in. The Blue Demons took advantage of foul trouble in the Gophers front court to return the game to double digits.
Neither Garcia’s 3rd or 4th foul was a foul given the rest of the way the game was called. The fourth foul made Garcia superfulous on defense.
Giving up twenty offensive rebounds is atrocious.
The loss is the first non-conference loss for Ben Johnson.