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Gopher Game Blog: Minnesota survives NJIT 74-68

Minnesota outlasted NJIT 74-68 and won their 8th game of the season. They reached eight wins in nine games this year, last year it took 27 games. Akeem Springs led the way with 19 points on one end, a lot of defensive effort on the other end.

GI brings you the Gopher Game Blog running live throughout the game with analysis as well as the Gopher Game Thread in the premium board which will also have analysis plus your thoughts on the game. The link for the game thread is below:

http://www.scout.com/college/minnesota/forums/3581-the-gopher-report/152...

Pregame

Minnesota is in home whites tonight as they play to match last year's win total in only nine games....NJIT in very colorful reds.  Minnesota has been up warming up and looks to have everybody healthy...Tonight if the first full night of high school basketball in Minnesota across the state so not a night you will see recruits at the game although there could be one or two...Minnesota is expected to start Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, and Reggie Lynch once again...NJIT guard Damon Lynn is a top ten scorer in the country at 5-foot-11.  He will pull from anyplace...NJIT plays a lot of zone and runs a fair amount of five out motion so this will be an interesting game in terms of how Pitino chooses to defend both the 5 out motion and the shooting of Lynn...NJIT played Purdue somewhat close losing by 11 and Lynn had 33 in that game with eight treys...Lynn starts with Osa Izevbuma, Rob Ukawuba, 6-foot-10 Abdul Lewis, and Tim Coleman who was the conference player of the week last week.  That's a four guard line-up with Lewis although Coleman is a jack of all trades...

First Half

NJIT goes zone like expected and two passes in Jordan Murphy took a quick jumper that missed. That’s okay though, Reggie Lynch grabbed the first of two offensive boards on the first two possessions as NJIT couldn’t rotate down and block him out with a smaller player.  Both of his boards became scores…Amir Coffey has been brilliant passing the ball early.  He’s already created four shots for his team, two of them went and both were threes (one from Nate Mason, one from Dupree McBrayer). Amir also jumped a passing lane for a score…Nate Mason is on Damon Lynn and chasing hard plus the help from his teammates coming off the ball screen handoffs has been really good.  Reggie has moved his feet well…MN 12 NJIT 6…

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/806303816580796417

Bakary Konate on after five minutes which I like   He has to play these back-up center minutes.  That said, no Eric Curry yet…Bakary has already got on offensive board (tap back) already…Jordan Murphy with another moving screen call this year and Curry is now on the floor…Curry immediately gests beat on a cut but Bakary with a clean-up block saving Curry’s tail…Ahmad Gilbert on the floor before Michael Hurt again.  Neither played last game…Bakary with another help over defensive stop and then a d-board. Love his effort…Eric Curry doesn’t box-out and gives up a second chance score and Pitino gets him out.  Curry is giving little effort on the floor right now…Ahmad Gilbert is on the floor because he is more confident in his shot than Hurt but there is also too much confidence.  He took a quick three that missed, then attacked into traffic and threw up a horrible brick, got a steal but then bricked again trying a 1 on 3.  Three very poor choices…Bakary with another tap back…MN 14 NJIT 14…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/806306382584643585

Reggie Lynch has now given up two offensive boards that have become NJIT second chance points…Akeem Springs nails a three and that is his first shot of the game.  Remember earlier in the year when he would fire away and get benched for dumb shots? We haven’t seen that in some time.  Maybe he needs to talk to Ahmad Gilbert about that, although Gilbert is still on the floor which surprised me after a run of bad shots…Akeem gets his feet set in the corner, ball is moved to him with good ball movement, he hits again.  Love the patience of the offense there and Akeem is rewarded with getting open with feet set to drain…MN 20 NJIT 19…

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/806309395718086658

Reggie Lynch doesn’t move his feet defending a smaller player around the basket and that player pivoted and forced a Lynch foul.   It’s another example of the Gophs playing lazy and uninspired on defense.  Not giving effort to make box-out hits or move their feet to cut off angles from NJIT…Jordan Murphy with his second illegal screen call of the game.  He sits down with six minutes to go.  On comes Curry who was very quiet and uninspired the first few minutes he was playing…Another illegal screen and Bakary has two although he will play until he gets three fouls.  That was an excessively weak call…NJIT is playing harder and more disciplined, simple as that.   Coffey was just faked out of shoes on a simple ball fake that allowed an NJIT attack score.  If Amir was deep in a stance it wouldn’t of been a problem…Lewis easily powers over Konate for a score.  This is horrible defense effort wise from Minnesota…MN 26 NJIT 28…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/806311768826007552

Michael Hurt on the floor as Pitino takes Bakary off and goes small with Curry at center and Michael at the four spot…Curry shows effort by diving out of bounds but the ball goes right to Lewis for a lay-up.   Bad luck on that one, Gophs were actually playing with energy…Akeem attacks the lane and gets a pretty extension score.  He’s been their best player so far tonight…Nate Mason needs to get going.  Has two scores on three shots and has been on the floor most of the game…Michael Hurt gets beat to the rim because his opponent muscled him to the basket.  Michael was in position but the ref called a weak foul.  The strength of Ukawuba was the issue…Mason no longer quiet, he knocks out a key three to give the Gophers the lead late in the second half…MN 37 NJIT 35 half….

https://twitter.com/GopherMBB/status/806314147671642112

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/806314566321864705

Second Half

Pitino drew up a pick and roll to get foul three on Lewis and to get Mason a score.  No call and Pitino was angry as that contact had been called earlier.  Based on this game it should have been a call, but maybe the refs will finally let them play.  Mason did the same action the next time down and scored this time against Lewis contact that again was not called…Ukawuba scores back to back on Murphy.  Jordan just isn’t getting it done on the defensive end.  And he almost gave up another offensive board but luckily one of his teammates tipped the ball away from the man Jordan didn’t make a box-out hit on…Dupree gets yanked out fast after something on the defensive end.  I missed what it was.  Meanwhile Mason is starting to explode as he hits another three…Ball comes off and a guard gets the board as Murphy and Lynch stand there.  Honestly this is getting ridiculous.  Just not enough effort at all.  Murphy picked up a foul on the play so he has to sit with three fouls…Bad calls are going both ways.  Another weak call as NJIT tries to fight in the post and it’s whistled.  Certain crews are making college hoops hard to watch and these guys they are one of them…Lynch is angry and goes for a nasty dunk and gets a call, which is good.  But he bricks both fouls shots, which is bad.  Lynn goes the other way and hits a three and NJIT is winning…MN 44 NJIT 47…

NJIT called a set with a fade screen that Nate defended well, than a back-cut that Mason also defended well, and then a big tried to force a pass and it became a turnover.  Good defense from Minnesota out of the timeout.  That must continue….Akeem Springs with the backcut when his man left him and Dupree finds him with a great bounce pass.  That is a veteran play.  Bakary gets two low post stops and two o-boards in a row.  Now an Akeem three and he is the energy.  Finally…Lynn ends that excitement against a scrambling Gopher defense hitting a three.  Gophs were all over the place working but NJIT has better ball movement…MN 51 NJIT 50…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/806322533003829248

Pitino comes out of the time out with a set and Bakary gets another illegal screen, plus a lecture from Pitino.   Bakary did respond with a block the other way but his mistake results in a seat on the bench.  Can’t come out with a dumb mistake like that after a long timeout of instruction…NJIT comes out of the timeout and their set play results in a score, and the lead…Murphy tries to bull his way to the rim and gets an open four footer, but misses.  Next time down he gets foul four because he reached over the back when he no chance to get the ball.  Bad foul pick up, he’s down on the bench again…Akeem Springs with back to back scores.  NJIT answered both Springs jumpers with treys but Akeem is having a really nice game and playing hard on both ends…Lynn just tried a 32 footer! There was still five seconds left on the clock be he said “to hell with it” in his best Bob Uecker voice.  It missed…Mason three, Reggie block, Mason attacks and hits trailing Reggie for a dunk.  This line-up of Coffey, Springs, Reggie, Dupree, and Mason must stay on the floor.  They are giving needed energy…MN 63 NJIT 61…

https://twitter.com/GopherHole/status/806325952204734465

https://twitter.com/Marcus_R_Fuller/status/806326324465901569

Love Akeem Springs on defense.  His stance, energy, refusal to be screened, it’s been excellent.  Plus he has the 18...Gophs are really having trouble with this five out motion that has different players diving into the post all the time.  The backside help just isn’t there as the NJIT guards have so many threats that guys are overplaying away from the ball...Murphy doesn’t go get airball off the glas, just waits for it and a guard takes it from him and then a struggle results in NJIT ball.  Go get it!...MN 65 NJIT 63…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/806330778950963200

Jordan Murphy gets foul five. 15 minutes, 4 boards, no field goals, 2 points, and not enough energy…NJIT uses ball screens so well.  They get a corner turn into a head of steam and just truck into you forcing either a foul call or a charge.  Gophs haven’t taken a charge all year that I recall so it’s often a foul. NJIT hits foul shots, Coffey gets one on other end, two point game in this hack fest that really hasn’t had many hacks, just light touches…Pitino calls for a clock run of 25 seconds and then a ball screen from Reggie into a Mason attack and pull-up.  It works.  69-65…Gophers bust through screens and get a big stop….NJIT now has to foul with 40 seconds left.  It’s all up to the Gopher foul shooting now.  It’s double bonus so they get two attempts.  Dupree makes two and the Gophs have hit 20 of 25 so they are sitting good…Gophers win 74-68…

https://twitter.com/RyanJamesMN/status/806333384154824704


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