Minnesota defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff 86-67 at Williams Arena. The Gophers improve to 4-1 on the season. Dawson Garcia led the Gophers with 19 points.
We are back to the thick of the non-conference season, which means that a successful game means that the Gophers win and no one gets injured. By that standard, this was a successful game. Like a Shakespearean play with a prologue, the outcome of the game was never in a doubt. Like a Shakespearean play performed by middle schoolers, the game was generally boring and terrible to watch.
Let’s start with the positives. Minnesota had nine different players score points. Four Gophers were in double figures. Cam Christie was 4-6 from distance and showed poise at the point guard position. When it was needed, the Gophers used their clear talent and physicality advantage to bully Arkansas Pine Bluff inside. The stats on both sides of the ball generally reflected that talent and physicality advantage. Minnesota had 40 points in the paint, several highlight reel dunks to go along with them, and out-rebounded the Golden Lions 50-31 with 19 offensive boards. There were spurts where the ball movement was fantastic on offense, which led to plenty of open shots all night.
Now for the less great. The Gophers as a team shot 11-36 from distance, and just 3-11 in the second half. At least 4 of those shots were straight air-balls. Minnesota scored just 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the first half. I am still not entirely sure what the offensive philosophy is for this team and we are three seasons into the the CBJ era. For some reason, “take a three pointer early in the shot clock” does not an offense itself make, and the team moves into isolation sets far earlier than needed.
Minnesota next plays San Francisco on Sunday.
My presumption is that Pharrel Payne is still on some form of minutes restriction. When he played tonight, he was simply too much for the Golden Lions. My personal favorite play of the night was Payne getting an offensive rebound and then going through three defenders at the rim for the score.
Kayden Betts scored his first points as a Gopher. Welcome to the show Kayden.
Elijah Hawkins is still a bit turnover prone, but it is fun to watch a point guard that is perfectly happy to go for the cool highlight reel pass. As always, if a team is going to be mid they might as well be interesting.
Joseph Ola Joseph is good at dunking a basketball. I am very here for it.
I love the Golden Lions’ mascot logo. Credit to the graphic designer.