The same theme rang true for the Gophers as they traveled to Indiana for a road Big Ten matchup. Without guards Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer, Minnesota started freshman Isaiah Washington with senior Nate Mason for just the second time this year. Jordan Murphy had 12 points, but lapses on defense were too much as the Gophers lost their 11th Big Ten game, 80-56. Minnesota has now dropped 10 of their last 11 games for the first time since starting 16-4 during the 2010-11 season.
The Hoosiers opened the game on a 10-2 run, including a three-point play by power forward Juwan Morgan. Minnesota shot just 4-for-11 from the floor as Indiana quickly stretched their lead to 12 points. The Gophers had trouble defending ball screens and it allowed the Hoosiers to slash down the lane for easy baskets. Indiana also knocked down three quick three-pointers to continue stretching their lead. Jordan Murphy picked up two fouls with nine minutes left in the first half, but stayed on the floor as Minnesota didn’t have many alternatives. He carried the Gophers all night, scoring 12 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. He also continued to hit long jumpers, including two notable contested shots. It’s certainly an aspect of his game he wants to start developing. Over the past two games, he has been confident shooting the ball from mid-range distances, hitting many of his shots. Murphy and Nate Mason simply couldn’t do it all on their own. Depth issues continue to plague the Gophers throughout the Big Ten schedule.
Dupree McBrayer and Amir Coffey both missed another game with injuries, forcing the main core to continue playing a high volume of minutes. A Nate Mason long-range hit pulled Minnesota within three points, but a pair of three-pointers by Devonte Green extended the Indiana lead back to six points. Green had 17 first half points, including four three-pointers as the Gophers struggled to handle multiple ball reversals. Minnesota particularly had no answer for Indiana ball screens as the helper struggled to hedge the screen. The Hoosiers’ ball movement was a tough matchup for the Gophers as they struggled to rotate and defend deep shots. Some of this could be related to minutes wearing on players who are on the floor for a substantial amount of time. Juwan Morgan would come off a screen and attack the rim as the Gophers struggled to shift defensively. Morgan had 19 points, proving why he is one of the most underrated power forwards in the conference. At one point, the lane was wide open and Morgan slid into a small crease because of poor help side defense. It’s really clear how much the Gophers miss having a rim protector to prevent easy baskets around the rim.
Indiana never looked back, opening the second half on a 6-0 run, extending their lead to 16 points. Minnesota started to wear down and the Hoosiers gashed them in transition. The Gophers couldn’t stop Indiana drives and were gashed as the game progressed. More importantly, they opened the half by making just three of their first 15 shots from the floor.
Freshman Isaiah Washington was one of the lone bright spots down the stretch. He had four straight points in one sequence, scoring in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. Washington had 14 points and will continue to see additional minutes as the Gophers prepare their young players for the future.
Indiana stretched their lead to 24 points, running past the Gophers for an easy 80-56 win.
The Gophers will return to action on Tuesday night as one of the top team’s in the country, Michigan State, arrives at Williams Arena for a showdown.
A depleted Minnesota team will certainly struggle with a loaded Spartans roster. At this point, their attention has turned to playing investment basketball and providing valuable minutes for young players.
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Tag(s): Gopher Football