One. Exhausted Defenders.
Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer never came off the floor. Amir Coffey left the court for a single minute. In the final ten minutes of the game Michigan went at Nate Mason with screens nearly every possession and Mason wasn’t able to get through the screen nor were his teammates able to show on the screen and offer any type of resistance. Nate Mason looked tired.
Bakary Konate didn’t play because his biggest asset is his low post defense. Michigan doesn’t have a guy that posts up much if at all. Not to mention Bakary really struggles with defending ball screens. That’s why he didn’t play. I was quite surprised that Michael Hurt only played a minute considering how many screens that Mason, McBrayer, and Coffey had to fight through. McBrayer offered 14 points making half of his shots and Coffey totaled 13 points, six boards, and four assists. They played solid games but had to play the full game.
The Gopher starters should of each should have had a breather in each half in my opinion so they would have the energy to compete on both ends down the stretch. They didn’t and they looked tired down the stretch. Akeem Springs being out played a huge role in today’s final result.
Two. Walton Outplays Mason.
The final stats were Derrick Walton Jr playing 37 minutes making all ten of his foul shots, hitting 8 of 15 shots, and scoring a career high 29 points with nine assists. Most of that was going right at Nate Mason directly, or after Mason was picked off by ball screens.
Mason played the full game scoring 23 points with four assists. Those numbers seem somewhat close but Mason shot 10 of 23, missed five of six threes, and did not create for others nearly as well as Walton did. Not to mention Mason scored three times late against a Michigan team that pretty much let him go through so the numbers were skewed a bit in points and final shooting. Mason also had a very tough defensive game.
Walton clearly outplayed Mason and it was very important to the final result.
Three. Michigan Capitalized on Gopher Mistakes.
The Gophers finished the game with 11 turnovers but the eight in the first half did the damage. Michigan turned nearly every mistake into an open floor finish the other way. Michigan turned Minnesota’s 11 turnovers into 20 points the other way while Minnesota had just seven points off turnovers.
Amir Coffey had three fumbles/lost balls that were sent the other way for Michigan open floor scores. Coffey had four turnovers and Reggie Lynch also had four plus Jordan Murphy turned the ball over twice.
Four. Pulling Lynch Away from the Basket.
Reggie Lynch blocked zero shots today. Zero. Moritz Wagner hit four early jumpers including two long threes and those quick ten points had Lynch guarding Wagner out of the paint. The result was that Michigan had room to work at the rim all game including several backdoor finishes beating Dupree McBrayer and Amir Coffey and the Gopher wings had no Lynch in the paint to offer shot blocking support. Wagner scored 17 points while Lynch had a quality dozen points on 6 of 7 shooting. Reggie finished consistently when he got post touches.
Jordan Murphy was a board away from another double-double having 13 points and nine boards. Murphy came back from a tough start (2 of 6 shooting) to play a key role. Eric Curry had another bad Big Ten Tournament game with several lay-up misses, 1 of 6 shooting, and so many defensive mistakes it was tough to have him on the floor.
Minnesota went 12-1 in phase one of the year, 11-7 in phase two, and is now 1-1 in phase three (the playoffs). That’s an outstanding record and now the Golden Gophers can get on a flight, relax this evening, and get ready for a fun party as they see who and where they will play in the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota, you are dancing. Enjoy it.