Minnesota defeated the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 77-57 at Williams Arena. With the win, the Gophers improve to 7-3 on the season with one more game before the finals break.
As this is a non-conference game, the usual rules for success apply. The Gophers won and no one got injured. Florida Gulf Coast had a depleted bench, with only seven healthy players, meaning that the Gophers would eventually be the beneficiary of their opponent’s fatigue.
Of course, the Gophers came in with injuries of their own. Dawson Garcia’s absence was immediately felt through the first ten minutes of the game. The Gophers looked lethargic and disjointed on the offensive and defensive ends of the game. Minnesota missed ten of their first 12 shots and paired that display of ineptitude with three turnovers. After reaching double digits with just under ten minutes to play in the half, the Gophers began to settle down. Isaiah Ihnen and Joshua Ola-Joseph were critical. The two combined for multiple three pointers as part of a 12-5 run to take the lead for good with five minutes left in the first half.
In the second half, Minnesota was notably more engaged and leaned on their talent advantage. Cam Christie had multiple buckets while Mike Mitchell continued to be a pest on defense and made some key threes. Against better competition, the underlying structure of the Gophers offense would have likely bit them. Against a depleted roster of a ASun team, it did not much matter. The lead was 20 points at the under 8 when the Eagles best player Keyshawn Kellman fouled out.
Notes and Superlatives
The Gophers had 22 assists before went to the scrubs. That hides a lot of the annoying isolation and ball sticking that happened on the offense, but it is not a coincidence that the offense started clicking when the Gophers started passing the rock.
Braedon Carrington started after sitting out practice with an ankle injury. Tough dude.
Parker Fox gave good minutes on the defensive end, especially in the second half. He also attempted three three point attempts and I think we can all agree that it is not a strength of his game.
Pharrel Payne played less than 20 minutes in this game, and Ben Johnson pulled most of his main starters for large portions of the second half.
Kris Keinys scored his first points as a Gopher. Congrats Kris!