Gopher Game Blog: Minnesota defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 86-74

Minnesota defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 86-74 tonight with five guys scoring in double figures led by the 15 points and 7 assists from Nate Mason.

The Gopher Game Thread is live in The Gopher Report right now and the Gopher Game Blog providing game analysis will be running here tonight through the final buzzer. Minnesota is coming off an 8-23 season and will play the Ragin' Cajuns who won 19 games a year ago but graduated the league player of the year plus the second leading scorer.  UL-Lafayette won their exhibition against West Florida 94-74 while the Gophers beat DePaul in a scrimmage by 20 and Bemidji State in the exhibition by 20 plus.  Tonight the games count and everyone is excited to get things underway.

Follow the Gopher Game Thread here:

http://www.scout.com/college/minnesota/forums/3581-the-gopher-report/151...

Pregame

Stephon Sharp was the first player on the floor, the first scholarship guy up getting shots was Akeem Springs. Minnesota is expected to start Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch, and Nate Mason who missed the exhibition against Bemidji State because of a concussion but had 15 points and 12 assists in the win over DePaul...Nate Mason is up on the floor getting shots up so any small chance of him not playing because of the concussion from last week is now gone.  Coach Pitino said several times that he is playing so it wasn't really a concern...Gophers are wearing home golds tonight...As he will be every chance he can get, Matthew Hurt is at Williams Arena watching his brother Michael Hurt play...Minnesota is starting Dupree McBrayer, Nate Mason, Jordan Murphy, Amir Coffey, and Reggie Lynch...Ragin’ Cajuns starting returning starters Jay Wright (sr), Jonathan Stove (jr), and Bryce Washington (jr) along with BYU transfer Frank Bartley (jr) and 6-11 Larenz Stalcup (jr)..

First Half

Excellent start for Reggie Lynch. His low post defense has been outstanding getting a block and forcing two bad shots from his man.  Lynch and Murphy have had some communication mishaps but it hasn’t cost the team.  Reggie has also scored twice at the rim including a putback And1…Didn’t like the first Nate Mason shot which was from NBA range and very early in the shot clock.  That attempt and two of the Amir Coffey early possession passes for forced and resulted in pointless possessions.  Amir did have a gorgeous pass to Jordan Murphy for a score…MN 7 LL 2…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/797245540056633344

Reggie with a great start and he goes to the bench with zero fouls.  That’s big.  Eric Curry comes on and he’s had double-doubles in the scrimmage/exhibitions…Amir drives through three to score after attacking in space after the timeout and then Curry hit a three on a great kickout from Curry…The Ragin Cajuns have been the victim of some horrible calls and Coach Bob Marlin was whistled for a technical.  I don’t blame him for his anger at all…Akeem Springs comes on the floor and hits a three.  That’s a great sign…Michael Hurt is the 8th man.  This is the eight man rotation that we expected based on the scrimmage and I think Bakary Konate and Ahmad Gilbert are spot minute guys.  Stephon Sharp too…Akeem hits a second trey, this one was quickly pulled off a ball screen…Springs now hits a long three banking the shot off the glass after a double pump.  He’s started strong so far.  This is more like DePaul and less like the Maroon/Gold and Bemidji State games…MN 23 LL 9…

Very high on what Minnesota has done so far defensively.  Sure there have been some communication mistakes and some missteps footwork wise in low post defense a couple times, but L-L has 11 points in 11 minutes, shooting 27 percent.  Great start, exactly what they need…One problem is the two fouls from Jordan Murphy already, and now Reggie Lynch has two (although I thought the second one was weak).  Both sitting with eight minutes to go in the half, Bakary Koante is on the floor….MN 28 L-L 15...

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/797248749126959104

Ball is moved to Curry on the baseline and he showed an outstanding spin move into a finish…Dupree hits a three and then does the Fernando Rodney arrow thing.  Interesting…Amir Coffey has eight points already and that’s with a few free throw gafs…Coffey with a bad close out and it leads to a L-L three make.  That’s the second bad closeout from a Gopher wing that has become an opposing score.  Gophs need to be more disciplined on their close-outs to the feet set opposition on the arc…Bakary gets an illegal screen and he was yelled at by Pitino harshly…Not a good half from Nate Mason.  He’s had two communication mistakes that against good teams will lead to good shots for the other team, he’s taken some bad shots, and he just had a bad turnover attacking a set defense.  Needs to play better…A long miss by Mason becomes another Coffey board and then a tip pass to Bakary for a dunk.  Bakary then goes back and gets an aggressive swat.  Bakary is playing hard…Bakary now with two fouls but you can let him get three as he’s not expected to play big second half minutes…MN 35 L-L 20…

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/797254276976443392

Bryce Washington has three fouls, Gopher three bigs have two each.  Not much being allowed inside tonight, very tight whistles…Bakary gets foul number three and now the Gophers go small with Michael Hurt at the four…Dupree makes another three and this time he brings the Sam Cassel marbles pose taken from Major League 2…Nate Mason has picked the Cajun lead guard twice in ball pressure and turned the steals into lay-ups.  Great finish to the half from him as he’s scored on three late possessions…Akeem kicks to Mason and at the buzzer…..Mason drains a three!  Nine fast points from Nate and it’s 48-26 Minnesota at the half.  This is such a different team….

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/797258353923751936

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/797257842168393730

Second Half

Reggie Lynch is so good in help side defense.  He’s been in position to stop three attacks, Gophs didn’t have that last year. He also scored fluidly on the move rolling off a ball screen.  Loved his catch and finish, looked quite agile.  Also, Jordan Murphy had a three dribble attack beating his man to the turn and then finishing strong.  He has to get better in position defense though, he was supposed to rotate twice defensively, and didn’t allowing opponents opportunity….Love the Dupree McBrayer one hand attack bucket.  A floater that’s Jalen Rose like.  His recent makes gives him double figures….Murphy just dunked over a 6-foot-11 guy in crazy fashion.  That’s Top Ten SC right there….Dupree hits another shot from deep, he’s calmed the shooting worries this evening….MN 61 LL 35…

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/797262192513060864

Another Eric Curry kickout to Amir Coffey goes for a three.  That’s the second time Curry has kicked out to Amir who hit in a rhythm…Reggie is so aggressive going for blocks that when he doesn’t get one, the backside has been wide open as backside Gopher defenders aren’t getting to their coverdowns.  Reggie has to be aggressive, therefore his teammates need to rotate quicker on that backside or it will be wide open for dump-offs and second chance scores…Reggie has definitely improved his free throw shooting…Gophers give up another basket at the rim because the defense isn’t rotating.  I like what they are doing on ball screens and how they are giving effort, now the rotations must get better.  The talk needs to improve too.  That said, it’s been really good for game one…MN 69 L-L 49…

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/797264825839652864

Reggie gets foul four on a bad reaching call.  7:27 to go, bad foul from Reggie.  He has to avoid that…Ahmad Gilbert gets his first minutes with 4:25 left in the game…Curry does a great job moving off the ball.  His backside movement in the zone has him at nine points and is getting him into spots to be an option regularly. Mason has 7 assists….MN 78 LL 59…

Ball movement has had the Ragin Cajuns chasing all game.  The latest reversal followed by a kickout went to Mason for a three…Sharp seeing his first action with two minutes to go…Hurt with a nice ball fake into a pass to a cutting Lynch for a two hand dunk…Bakary will get his first minutes of the second half at the 1:37 mark…Minnesota’s 8-12 guys not exactly holding the lead well.  Three walk-ons with Hurt and Konate have let the lead slip to 15 points…Now 12…Brady Rudrud scores his first college points…Gophers get the lead back up to 15, and back to 12.  No Gaston Diedhiou playing time again….MN 86 L-L 74 Final….

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/797274196497858560


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