Photo: University of Minnesota
by: Daniel House
As the Gophers’ 2020 season comes to a close, fans should just enjoy watching Daniel Oturu. During Wednesday’s game against Indiana, Oturu put together another memorable performance for NBA scouts. The senior big man scored 24 points and snatched 16 rebounds in a 72-67 loss.
In the second half, Oturu stole the ball and finished a massive dunk on the other end. He was also dynamic off the dribble and dominant on the low block. His versatile playmaking ability has been a bright spot during the Gophers’ three-game losing streak. All season long, Oturu and Marcus Carr have carried Minnesota.
Carr was held to just six points on 2-for-8 shooting in Wednesday's game. The Hoosiers played active team defense and had five players in double figures. Minnesota took a two-point lead into halftime, but an 8-0 Indiana run turned the tide of this game. The Gophers have now dropped six of their past seven games.
Minnesota opened the game shooting just 1-for-7 from the floor, including a trio of missed 3-pointers. The Gophers also didn’t take care of the basketball and allowed Indiana to accumulate easy baskets. In the opening minutes, the Hoosiers went on a 6-0 run, including a steal and easy layup by Justin Smith. The Hoosiers grabbed an 11-4 lead in the first five minutes. Minnesota initially trailed the rebounding margin 12-6, but limited opportunties on the offensive glass. Isaiah Ihnen drilled a 3-pointer to trim Indiana’s advantage to four points. The true freshman has continued to take advantage of increased minutes. At this stage of the season, players like Ihnen and Tre’ Williams can benefit from seeing additional action. In fact, both of them are becoming valuable for this team.
In the first half, just a few minutes after Ihnen and Oturu exited the game, Indiana went on an 8-0 run. The Gophers keep searching for lineup combinations to prevent these scoring bursts. Alihan Demir isn't a reliable defender and has trouble moving his feet against quick dribblers. If Oturu isn’t on the court, things drastically change for this team. Not only that, but Ihnen is complementing Oturu very well. His length, athleticism and shooting have been impactful on both ends of the court. The true freshman drilled a 3-pointer to pull Minnesota ahead by two points at halftime. Ihnen finished the night with nine points, including a trio of three-pointers.
Right out of halftime, Aljami Durham drained a 3-pointer to spark another 8-0 Indiana run. The Hoosiers started moving the ball and stretched their lead to seven points with 15:27 remaining. Payton Willis responded with a deep trey and Oturu muscled into the paint for an easy layup. The Gophers tied the game at 54, but a post touch by Joey Brunk put Indiana back on top. A few moments later, Durham went downhill off a curl to finish a three-point play at the rim. The 9-1 run helped the Hoosiers extend their lead to eight points with 5:24 left. During the same scoring burst, freshman big man Trayce Jackson-Davis drove down the lane and completed a huge dunk. Jackson-Davis, one of the top young players in the Big Ten, had 18 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
The Gophers trailed by seven points with 2:30 remaining, but couldn’t find an offensive rhythm. Minnesota didn’t string together enough efficient possessions in crunch time and committed eight second-half turnovers. The backcourt also continues to shoot erratically from the floor. Gabe Kalscheur had 14 points, but was just 1-for-6 from downtown. Many of the Gophers’ long-range shooting issues are often the result of ball movement issues. If the players are coming off screens in rhythm, the success rate is much higher.
The Gophers had opportunties to grab ahold of this game, but just couldn’t string together enough quality possessions.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball