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Gopher Game Blog: Minnesota defeated Southern Illinois 57-45

Minnesota improved to 6-0 on the season with a 57-45 win over SIU. Shooting was ugly on both sides tonight but Minnesota defended well and scored clutch baskets late in both halves to put SIU away. Amir Coffey was the game high scorer again, this time with 13.

The Game Thread in The Gopher Report premium message board is live and running right now for tonight's Minnesota vs Southern Illinois contest.  GI will once again provide game analysis both in The Gopher Game Blog and within that game thread. Feel free to share your feelings in the game thread, if you have a way to see the game.  If you don't have a way to see it ask whatever questions you would like, just click the link below:

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

Pregame

Minnesota has played five games beating two major conference teams (St. Johns and Arkansas), a top low major (UT-Arlington), and two average low major teams (UL-Lafayette and Mount St. Marys)...Southern Illinois is 3-2 also beating Mount St. Marys but losing to Arkansas.  Both are common opponents.  The Salukis lost to the Hogs by 25 and beat The Mount by ten.  They also beat SIUE and Missouri Southern State who are about the same level of competition as Minnesota's exhibition opponent Bemidji State....Minnesota students were of course off today and there are few students on campus at all at Minnesota....The Gophers have started Nate Mason at point, Dupree McBrayer at the two, Amir Coffey at the three, Jordan Murphy at the four, and Reggie Lynch at the five every game this year...SIU starts 5-10 Mike Rodriguez, 6-1 Sean O'Brien, 6-4 Armon Fletcher, 6-7 Sean O'Brien (215lbs), and 6-8 Thik Bol (200lbs) with 6-5 Sean Floyd and 6-1 Aaron Cook off the bench.  Not a very big team in size on the floor or pounds on the chest...All five Salukis average in double figures with Rodriguez scoring nearly 15 a game. Fletcher has been scorching from the arc and Vincent has shot well too.  O'Brien averages nearly a double-double...Reggie Lynch warmed up but will be sitting out this evening to rest his ankle.  Eric Curry will start in his place.  Lynch did warm-up and is still warming up right now.   Bakary Konate will likely get more time as well...SIU starting their same group as the previous games...

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First Half

Eric Curry has been very active early.  Showed on a rebound and a post up battle win for the ball, later on a floor run to get free throws.  Eric made one missed the other which was better than the 0 for 2 that Murphy had…Amir Coffey has already missed two box-out hits and it cost them a possession early.  Has to be better against the good teams…After missing his foul shots Murphy hits an 18 footer…Love how fast Curry is off his feet to aggressively collect boards…Nate Mason has taken two quick no pass pull-ups.  One went…Not liking some of the defensive errors early.  Murphy and Dupree each had a couple undisciplined possessions that will cost them in Big Ten play.  The communication on screens has to be better too…MN 5 SIU 4…

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/802318422914777088

Jordan Murphy scores a one-hander in the post for his second field goal.  With Reggie out he has a lot more space to work down low…Bakary Konate on earlier than usual.  With Reggie out it makes sense…Konate comes in and sets a nice screen that became a Dupree attacking score as SIU couldn’t catch up to Dupree’s speed off the ball screen and then the other way Bakary made a fantastic chest hit to stop his guy and then collected a board.  Nice start for Konate…Love how Eric Curry passes the ball out of the post…Minnesota has played ball screens pretty good and it helps that most on the team can move their feet well enough to cut off the angle of most D1 guards.  Dupree hits a pull-up.  All jumpers going through the net are welcome!…MN 12 SIU 9

SIU comes out of the timeout with an alley-oop dunk as Bakary can’t get off his help to get to his man rolling and the backside defenders (Gilbert and Curry I believe) were so far out of position they won’t even be in the picture for the dunks of that replay. Well drawn play but Minnesota’s backside defense wasn’t even close to being in the correct position…SIU with three chances on one possession because Eric Curry didn’t box his man out.  The rebounding is going to be terrible if they don’t start making a better effort to find bodies and make contact…Minnesota’s effort grade is a complete F right now.  No energy.  Ball isn’t moving enough on offense and that tone was set by quick shots from Mason and Murphy multiple times…MN 14 SIU 18…

Ball movement after the timeout out is much, much better.  It got Murphy a post touch which became his second left shoulder one-hand score, a quick rotation to a baseline feed gave him a dunk, and then two quick pushes off long boards became an Amir Coffey And1 and a Nate Mason three.   That’s followed by a ten second violation out of a SIU timeout…More defense leads to more Minnesota running which is another Mason score…MN 25 SIU 18…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/802325718629777409

When Minnesota doesn’t have Reggie or Bakary on the floor teams are going hard at the rim with no backside protection.  Last SIU basket of the half the guard went straight at Curry who just doesn’t have the size/length to cover ground on the backside.  When Bakary or Reggie are there you know that Reggie will be in the way and usually Bakary will be.  Bakary is more likely to foul and be off balance but both of them are good space protectors where Curry just doesn’t give Minnesota that which is why you are seeing this attacks without last line resistance…Dupree attacks with a second left, kicks to Amir, and with feet set in space Amir hits a buzzer beating three.  Coffey has done that a couple times now…MN 29 SIU 20…

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/802329346916511744

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/802328985413750784

Second Half

Jordan Murphy faced up to attack in the post and the SIU coaches lost their mind yelling “shooting! Shooting!” before Murphy even put the ball down.  The SIU players obviously were instructed to extra help as Jordan doesn’t pass out much after facing up deep.  Jordan shot and missed over three guys anyway…Moments later though Murphy had a really nice high-low look to Curry for foul shots…Curry had seven first half boards and his latest board (half two) became a Coffey dunk.  It’s so hard to blockout an active, long, quick leaping Curry behind the defense with smaller players.  He is a terror that way…MN 35 SIU 26…

Bakary comes on and makes an impact right away with his offensive putback for a score.  He then got dunked on by Bol with his late lateral movement but he was there.  Bakary is the one Gopher that gets some minutes that does have lateral problems that greatly limits what he can do on ball screens…For the second time today Murphy tried that one hander out of the post over the top of an in-position defender and had it shoved back in his face…Coffey moves off the ball to cut, receive and score again.  So smart moving off the ball against a rotating defense…MN 39 SIU 32….

Bakary switches over to O’Brien in good position, O’Brien tries to shoot over him and fails, the long board is pushed by Minnesota for a Dupree to Curry score after Eric spun to clear for space. That is right there exactly what Minnesota wants:  make opponent shoot over length and miss, push the board, score with numbers in space…Pitino goes to the zone for the second time out of a timeout.  Once again it messed with SIU game flow and didn’t allow whatever called set that SIU had in mind….Dupree hits a wide open trey giving him nine for the game and that was his second jumper make.  He has consistently had his touch going in seven of nine showings (including scrimmages/exhibitions)…Konate has been very good on the glass.  Just grabbed his fifth board in a dozen minutes…Gophers go back to a zone press and it really looked good.  They went 2-2-1 full court into what looked like a 2-3 zone.  Minnesota’s backside barely moved but it was a shot clock violation because the small SIU guards couldn’t doing anything against the guard length of Minnesota…MN 47 SIU 32…

SIU has had so much trouble with Bakary on the glass…Bakary comes out with a standing ovation…Dupree dribbles way too much after a hesitation dribble and takes a terrible shot with Coffey wide open to his left.  SIU pushes the miss and gets a wide open score.  Just an awful shot by Dupree cost his team a good possession and gave the opponents a good possession…Coffey comes off a ball screen drawing two defenders with him and that left Curry wide open for Amir to find for a score.  Great pass from Amir…SIU faces 34 seconds of good Minnesota defense and then hits a contested three at the buzzer. That happens sometimes. MN-49-36…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/802343141961584640

Both teams are shooting very low percentages.  Minnesota has played some pretty good team most of the game and SIU has some as well.  Very few turnovers overall (16 combined) but lots of contested misses…Murphy just threw a 33 foot pass to a sealed Curry over the top.  You can’t expect that pass to get there in the halfcourt when there is so little space for the help defender to cover.  SIU takes the interception the other way and scores.  Pitino calls a timeout up only eight with 90 seconds to go…Curry with a nice skip pass to Coffey who fakes a shot and attacks baseline for a reverse finish.  Beautiful offense spreading the court…Gophers get a stop and then Durpee scores.   This game has not been pretty but Minnesota picked up their defense and at the end put the game away with good scoring possessions…Minnesota wins 57-45…

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/802345669264478209


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