One. Guard Dominance.
If you do your research it’s clear that Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer clearly outplayed PJ Thompson and Dakota Mathias 11 months back despite Purdue winning. It happened last year and it clearly happened tonight. Thompson simply couldn’t move his feet with Mason and especially couldn’t chase him over and around screens. Nate scored his 31 on 11 of 18 shooting plus he dished out 11 assists. His pull-up jumper was on once again but he also made some clutch shots against percentages. Let’s also not forget the late attacking clutch make from Dupree who scored 12 points. Meanwhile, Thompson had 12 points and Mathias four. Thompson made three treys as Minnesota had trouble recovering in rotation after the double teams but regardless they could do nothing with Mason. Before the game Richard Pitino said Nate Mason is playing like an All Big Ten guy and I think that is clear after this win.
Two. Reggie’s Back
Reggie Lynch is needed in the worst way. When he’s not playing the Gophers lose their backside eraser and a low post finishing threat. He was basically absent the last three games but tonight he scored five field goals, grabbed six boards, and blocked five shots. Minnesota needed every piece of that production and some of his scores were big responses after Purdue runs. Reggie eventually fouled out in overtime but the damage was done as Reggie gave the needed production. When Reggie is there the Gophers can beat anybody in the league and that was proved tonight.
Three. Don’t Shoo….Why Not!
The Jordan Murphy and Eric Curry jumpshots. I have to admit on nearly all of them I cringe. They have good form to be honest, and both are getting better but I cringe nonetheless. I had come up with a rule for them. I’m okay with one attempt and miss if it’s within the flow. And I’m okay with them making and then shooting until they miss as long as the shots are good. So when Jordan Murphy was making all of his early attempts it was okay. When Eric Curry shot and missed his first couple, it was again okay. The quick shot and miss after the timeout? No. The ones after that? No. So when he attempted, and MADE the jumpers later it was one of those deals where the guy proved others wrong (I was likely wrong although my instincts don’t feel that way).
Curry stepped up and was able to catch at the arc and make plays. He finished with 10 points and seven boards while Murphy put up 16 points and six boards before fouling out. Add in what Reggie did and the frontcourt of Minnesota combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds to counter the 28 points and 22 rebounds from Caleb Swanigan.
Four. Terrible Officiating. Terrible.
This was one of the most brutal officiating efforts I have ever seen. Just embarrassing. Bakary Konate and Jordan Murphy put their arms on guys in the post in the low post battle and they get fouls called. When Caleb Swanigan did it pushing players off the block, nothing. Minnesota had a lot of deserved calls but then a lot of weak touch fouls. At the end of the first half Minnesota bigs had nine fouls, Purdue had one. Swanigan was allowed to fight in the post on both ends for position, the Gophers couldn’t in half one. All that battle and Caleb had zero fouls at the half. Purdue’s frontcourt had one while Minnesota’s had nine. Just ridiculous. The Gophers were the aggressor and should have had more but the officials changed the way they could play with their unbalanced calls. They couldn’t be physical in post fight, Purdue was allowed to be overly physical.
Then how about the three seconds in the lane on Purdue? I thought maybe it was an illegal screen on Swanigan but it wasn’t. Then I thought it was somebody went out of bounds but it wasn’t. The official signaled three seconds in the lane and never said who. Couldn’t of been Swanigan, he ran through it. Vincent Edwards? I timed him at 3.1 seconds in the lane which clearly isn’t going to draw a whistle. I think the ref wanted to call an illegal screen on Swanigan and then changed his mind and made the 3 seconds violation up. Just terrible.
Then the traveling whistles. Caleb Swanigan’s second to last regulation shot that he missed on a pivot. Clearly a travel. He picked the pivot foot off the ground and then made the move. Swanigan did the same thing at the end of regulation when he scored. His pivot foot came off the ground and was adjusted so he could step through. A clear travel, but no whistle and it allowed the game to go to overtime.
The Eric Curry attack for Minnesota in overtime. He not only switched pivot feet when in triple threat position, I think he also took an extra step attacking. Traveled twice in the same play and got an And1 call instead! It was awful officiating all the way around. The travels balanced out but the fact that Swanigan had one foul in 41 minutes is near criminal.
After the Michigan State loss the casual Minnesota fans came out with “I told you so”. Belief in this team from the casual fan was lost quickly. For the Gophers it was about responding to the tough loss. It was so important that Richard Pitino had the word “Respond” put everywhere.
And Minnesota responded in a big way. Some of it was advantage as Minnesota had the better guards. But another part of it was Reggie Lynch and Eric Curry stepping up along with Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy giving what he had been giving. The guy who really responded was of course Nate Mason. The Michigan State loss was painful for him because Tum Tum made big plays on him and he missed a late foul shot. Mason stepped up huge for the big victory.
Akeem Springs only played 12 minutes but they were steady. Had a block, a steal, four boards, made two foul shots, made a field goal at a key time, and simply provided the team a smart decision maker and steady hand.