Minnesota lost 74-62 to Indiana at Assembly Hall. The Gophers dropped to 3-2 in Big Ten play and 12-4 on the season. Pharrel Payne led all scorers with 17 points.
The trouble with supporting a team that is in fact not that good yet is watching inconsistency. During the seven game win streak, the Gophers did a good job mitigating obviously silly mistakes. Sadly, those mistakes returned with a vengeance against Indiana. The Gophers had 14 turnovers overall, but five of them were in the first 8 minutes. Dawson Garcia picked up two early fouls and had to sit for large portions of the first half. Elijah Hawkins, who has played so well over the last seven games, made several mistakes that we have not seen since early in non-conference play.
Second to the foul trouble and turnovers was cold shooting. Basketball remains a simple game and if a team cannot shoot then there is not much to say otherwise. The numbers from distance tell the story. The Gophers were just 2-6 in the first half and 11-29 from the field. In the second half, they “improved” their overall field goal percentage to 40%, but were just 1-14 from distance. 3-20 from three point range will rarely if ever win a basketball game. A decent number of those looks were good looks within the offense, but a fair few of them were rushed or settled shots. Credit to Indiana for disrupting the Gophers primary actions.
The lone bright spot was Pharrel Payne, who was 7-8 from the field and finished with 10 rebounds. He was aggressive on drives and getting position on the low block. About the only weakness in the sophomore’s game are free throws (3-8 from the line).
So let’s take stock of where the Gophers are five games in the conference season. Indiana struck me as a good test for evaluating Minnesota. The Hoosiers and Minnesota have played nearly identical conference schedules and have roughly equivalent metrics. I did not get the sense from watching the game that the Gophers were six possessions worse than Indiana. Assuming the Gophers develop appropriately over the season, I’ll make the prediction now that they win by six when this matchup returns to the Barn.
What was confirmed is that the Gophers right now are not good enough to have sort of off-night, even against mid level Big Ten competition.
The Gophers next take on Iowa on January 15th at Williams Arena.