Minnesota defeated Central Michigan and Cal Baptist last week. The Gophers now stand at 4-1 in non-conference play heading into their game tonight against UNLV.
Dawson Garcia continues to lead the way for the Gophers. Against Central Michigan, Garcia scored 17 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Minnesota shot the ball particularly well from deep against the Chippewas and finished the night 7-18 from behind the arc. While the game was never in doubt, the Gophers pulled away in the second half behind a 16-6 run led by Braeden Carrington and Garcia. Carrington had his best game of his early career, and slowly looks to be stepping into the starting two guard spot.
Cal Baptist was notably better competition. The Lancers beat Washington earlier this year, and the Gophers were playing in the foreign and challenging environment of what looked to be a middle school gym. Minnesota finally got Jamison Battle back, though on a minutes restrictions, and the first five minutes of the game looked promising. The Gophers began the game with a 15-0 run before going ice cold from the field to allow the Lancers to cut the lead to 8 at the half. A similar hot start in the second half saw Minnesota’s lead rise to 13 before a near epic collapse saw Cal Baptist tie the game in regulation. In overtime, Dawson Garcia made a impressive circus shot to seal the win with six seconds to play.
Notes Going Forward
Pharrel Payne is good at basketball. The freshman notched the first of many double doubles of his career against Cal Baptist, and I like that he is gaining confidence each game.
My kingdom for this team hitting division wide averages from the free throw line. None of the wins this season would have been even close to “close” if the Gophers could regularly make shots from the free throw line. They will lose at least one if not three to four conference games with this level of free throw shooting.
Jamison Battle will take a bit of time to get to 100%, but I am very excited about the starting five. Pay no attention to the bench and focus entirely on the fact that the starting five can take the Pepsi challenge with most other conference starting fives.
I am not sure why the Gophers have started a new trend of not making a basket for four to five minutes each half, but it would be cool if they cut it out going forward.