First possession went to Joey King inside, he missed it. He quickly went to the bench. OSU started out with two easy layups inside and the Gophers had yet another pathetic start. After a quick word to his player, which Pitino has been known to do this season, Joey King re-entered the game and the Gophers went on a 9-0 run, now 26-20 OSU. When these runs happen you always wish you could sub Carlos Morris out without effecting the rhythm of the run. Carlos Morris would turn it over a couple times and again, Joey King would find himself out of the offense.
I mean it's not like Joey King is out there to play defense, right? Get him the damn ball.
My guy, Ahmad Gilbert Jr., who I have been desperately lobbying for to get more playing time in these press conferences hit two big threes in a few short minutes before the half. Gilbert Jr. was also responsible for a big jump ball possession that led to Nate Mason's two made free throws making it 37-34 OSU going into the half.
Seeing Gilbert Jr. hit those threes brings a tear to my eye. For some reason, Pitino has decided not to play him much at all. Instead Coach Pitino has gone with Stephon Sharp, McBrayer, Buggs (among others) as more primary options off the bench. Tisk, tisk. Is this Gilbert Jr.'s rise and coming out party for more playing time? It's hard to say, and boy do I wish I could be in Columbus for the postgame pressers.
Loving/Giddens/Tate/Diop: 12-21 FG at the half. Yikes. Rest of team: 1-11 FG
2nd half story:
Carlos "The Enigma" Morris, after an up-and-down first half, started the second half with a baseline trey taken right in front of his team's bench. Gophers took their first lead on a Jordan Murphy free throw, 38-37 MINN. I am not a Morris fan, but the three he hit was huge for such a poor starting team. Giddens picked up his fourth foul with about 17:00 minutes to play in the second and the Gophs were in business.
Gilbert Jr. seems to have a nose for this game and an understanding when to be assertive. He nabbed a big offensive board and converted a well contested low-post score, 45-42 OSU. From there the Buckeyes won the 50-50 balls, grinded in the paint and they started to run away, 56-46 OSU.
Nate Mason got rattled, took bad shots, and started to make the dumb plays instead of the right play. He has really worried me at times this year and tonight was as bad as any of those others. The Gophers dug themselves into a 16-point hole (65-49), largely because of Mason's decision making. Mason hit the bench, but the rout was already on. Where was Gilbert Jr. during that run? On the bench. Where was Jordan Murphy today? Nowhere to be found.
It was a tale of two halves and two point guards. JaQuan Lyle finished with 13 assists and Nate Mason finished with 1 assist on 4-14 shooting from the field.
My prediction was bold saying the Gophers would win and in the end it was not close. The Gophers are so disorganized during these runs that it pretty much wipes away any chance in finding the momentum to make a comeback. The Gophers did lead in the 2nd half, but it was short lived.
The Gophers are now 6-7 on the season and host Tom Izzo's Michigan State squad on January 2nd.