Ohio St 78 Minnesota 72: Five Things to Know

Minnesota dug themselves into a giant hole Wednesday night that led to a fourth straight Big Ten loss. The game was close but the Gophers fell 78-72 as they weren’t able to close yet again.

One.  No Early Life.

It just took Minnesota way too long to get into this game.  They played with very little energy early, which led to a 17 point deficit.  Offensively there was some bad shot selection at times and on the defensive end their defensive communication and rotation was very poor (from everyone).  The Gophers found some life late in the first half to get within two scores but that early hole sunk them for the rest of the game.

Two.  Can’t Close the Deal

It’s becoming a theme, the Golden Gophers not finishing close games.  Tonight the Gophers had the open looks to win, they just didn’t complete them.  Nate Mason missed a transition attack, Akeem Springs couldn’t make a wide open three in the corner, Jordan Murphy missed inside late, and Reggie Lynch wasn’t able to make an inside shot from three feet.  These weren’t the only late misses but four of the more memorable.  Despite frustrations with some of the late calls Minnesota had chances to win the game but they couldn’t make shots.

And yes it was a benefit to Ohio State that Kam Williams was allowed to travel twice on the same play to score late and that the Buckeyes fouled Amir on the dunk and Akeem on the sideline with no call.  That said, this game was in Columbus and this is to be expected on the road in the Big Ten.  Bottom line is Minnesota had a chance to win and they couldn’t make the plays where as Ohio State made the plays early and held on.

Three. Free Throw Shooting.

Seventeen days ago the Ohio State Buckeyes lost by a dozen on the road but tonight they won by six.  The home court advantage helped their cause as did their free throw shooting.

In Minneapolis the Buckeyes made just 11 of 22 foul shots.  Tonight the Buckeyes made 23 of 28 and that was a key difference for them.  Minnesota made 14 of 20.

Four.  A Better Mason & Murphy.

Minnesota didn’t get the win.  Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason didn’t have incredible games.  Both were much better this evening though and that is a step in the right direction for the Gophers.

Mason shot in the high 20s percentage wise over the last five games but tonight the Gopher junior made 7 of 18 looks for his 21 points and dished out four assists.  He made three treys and all four of his foul shots.  Mason was the playmaker that Minnesota needs to stop the losing streak and he will head into the Maryland game a more confident player.

Jordan Murphy was lifeless early but then late in the half he had the buzzer beater and another score.  Jordan played 31 minutes and gave 7 points and 7 rebounds.  The team still needs more but it’s a step in the right direction.

Also, Reggie Lynch played 34 minutes totaling ten points, six boards, and two blocks.  Minnesota needs him on the floor and that was also a good sign.

Five.  The Switch.

Akeem Springs played 36 minutes scoring 15 points on 5 of 12 shooting for his 15 points with ten boards.  His first double-double as a Gopher.  Springs is Minnesota’s most consistent three point shooting threat.

Problem was outside of a short spurt Dupree McBrayer did not give the team what they need from him off the bench to be successful.  Dupree was 2 of 7 from the floor, followed some early good plays with badly forced plays, scored four points with four assists in 21 minutes.

Also, Amir Coffey had 11 points but most of his quality play came in the second half.  He was in foul trouble in half one plus didn’t play with enough energy until the second half.

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