One. Jordan Murphy. Minnesota needs this Jordan Murphy to win games in the Big Ten. They got a great game from Jordan, and then some. He made 10 of 13 shot attempts for his 25 points plus aggressively rebounded collecting 19 in his 39 minutes of play. Murphy is at his best when he’s scoring on putbacks, moving off the ball to catch on the move, scoring in transition, and attacking with a dribble from 12 feet and in against a rotating defense.
More importantly Murphy did some other things we hadn’t seen enough of. He was active on defense highlighted by that late game defensive rotation that became a steal and of course the four blocks. Rebounding wise he was grabbing a board once every five minutes played since the Michigan State game. Tonight he was back to collecting one once every couple mintues.
Jordan also made some clutch free throws making 5 of 7. I would say that Murphy needs to be in that 10-12 points, 7-8 rebounds a night area for the Gophs to keep winning. Tonight they got that, and then some.
Two. Nate Mason. Murphy was struggling, but not tonight. The other guy who was struggling was Nate Mason and his are of concern was his shooting. The last three halves (and two overtimes) of basketball Mason has been much better with his touch so his struggles seem over too.
Mason made all of his free throws (there were some clutch makes late) and shot 9 of 21. There were some ugly late possessions but also two late game possessions that Nate attacked the defense to score in the clutch including the shot that tied the game at 77. He put up 25 points with seven assists and seems to be out of his funk.
Three. Poorly officiated. This game was terribly officiated. Plain and simple. It seems like every couple minutes fans were looking to the monitor to see what on earth was called. The calls were bad both ways but the worst call went against Iowa. Up 77-75 Iowa was caught in a loose ball situation but it looked like Jordan Murphy was standing out of bounds (replay shows he was). There were also people yelling for timeout. The refs missed that and gave Minnesota the ball on the jump. The Gophers scored and the game went into overtime.
That wasn’t the only bad call tough. Bakary Konate couldn’t even touch anybody this evening before a whistle came. The final Jordan Murphy call was simply pathetic. One of Reggie Lynch’s final calls was awful. How many touch calls did Peter Jok get? Did Iowa have the worst time one? Definitely. Did Minnesota get some touch fouls are the basket? I think so. But it was bad all over.
The officials didn’t call much in half one, then overcompensated in half two early. The end result was both teams looking for whistles down the stretch on everything and the officials not wanting to call everything even though they had set the tone for it. Bad job by the stripes.
Four. Late game stretch. The Gophers made you sweat down the stretch. I liked a couple of the Nate Mason isolation situations as it worked twice. Especially when he got a big on him. That said his teammates can’s stand and watch. If Mason attacks one way the opposite wing must curl cut the arc looking for the kickout/bail out pass. There were about two or three possessions late that did not look good.
This time Minnesota did make the plays late to scratch out the win. They just took too long to do it so it went to overtime. Growth made. It may have been slow growth but its growth. I would like to see this team be more active in ball movement and player movement in these late game situations. They pass the ball so well at all positions that I think they could get a good shot that way too. Especially if Amir Coffey touched the ball.
Five. Growth made. In past games at home Minnesota was not able to score in the halfcourt set and win the game. Tonight they did.
In past home games Minnesota gave up double figure leads and lost. Tonight they gave up that lead, and then won.
Against Wisconsin and Maryland the Gophers collapsed after Reggie Lynch fouled out. Tonight they won.
In the past several games Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason struggled. Tonight they led their team to a Gopher victory. Along the way Akeem Springs (17 points), Amir Coffey (13 points and 6 assists), Reggie Lynch (12 boards and 6 blocks), Dupree McBrayer (8 points), and Eric Curry (9 points and 3 offensive boards) all made big contributions.