Minnesota easily defeated New Orleans at Williams Arena 97-64. The Gophers improve to 5-2 on the season. Every win this season has been against weak competition, but wins are wins. Cam Christie led all scorers with 20 points. Pharrel Payne led all scorers with seventeen points. Dawson Garcia added 15.
It is important to highlight that New Orleans is a bad basketball team. Consequently, we evaluate this game on the “win and no injuries” standard. By that standard, the Gophers had a great game. By the standards of basketball, they also had a great game. I was pleasantly entertained throughout. Five highlights that stood out to me.
- Pharrel Payne is unguardable by any team outside the top 100 in KenPom ratings. He is simply too strong and too skilled to be defended by any post who does not have P5 size. The Gophers turned their entire second half offense over to the sophomore for much of the second half. For an extended period, Payne outscored the Privateers by himself.
- Before the second team came in for good, the Gophers shot almost 70% from the field. It turns out that it is easy to make shots when many of them are dunks and layups.
- Elijah Hawkins loves to make the cool plays, and for highlight reasons I also love it. What I love less is that Hawkins has a tendency to commit silly turnovers that sap momentum. Against the good teams that Minnesota has played this season, that has put Hawkins on the bench in the second half. The Gophers are a better offense early in the season when their starting point guard is playing under control.
- Parker Fox was absolutely robbed by the officials of a great put back dunk where he skied over a defender. He did get a less cool put back later in the second half. Fox and Wilson were the post players for the final ten minutes of action. The bench in general did well against New Orleans. Before we moved to the silly part of the game, Minnesota’s bench outscored New Orleans bench 46-17.
- Pharrel Payne was the highlight of the game, but my sleeper player of the game was Braedon Carrington. Carrington has evolved into a Gabe Kalscheur like defensive player, and if he continues that should see votes for All-Big Ten defensive team.. Other than fouls tonight, Carrington did about everything you can ask for from the combo guard/small forward position.
Minnesota opens conference play against Ohio State on Sunday December 2nd.