The Gophers continued the early stages of non-conference play with another test against a Power-5 opponent. This time, Minnesota traveled to the east coast for a matchup with Boston College. It quickly became a night they’ll soon forget.
The Gophers shot just 29 percent from the floor, including 5-for-30 from behind the arc. They had a 1-for-15 scoring drought in the second half and simply couldn’t sustain possessions in a 68-56 loss.
This is a night where the Gophers didn’t receive consistent guard play. Offensive possessions were stagnant, possessions lacked flow and guards Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer combined to shoot just 4-for-19 from the floor. When Coffey is aggressive and attacking, the Gophers’ offense clicks. When he struggles, the entire system looks different. The team didn’t shoot the ball well either, especially Dupree McBrayer, who had zero points. Minnesota continues to struggle with zone defenses and it was particularly evident when they couldn’t ride the hot hand of Gabe Kalscheur the entire night.
Outside of Kalscheur and Jordan Murphy, there was little to no offensive output.
Early in the game, Kalscheur ran the floor and Amir Coffey pushed the ball ahead for an easy transition layup. Moments later, Kalscheur drilled a three-pointer off a ball reversal and finished with 12 points. The newcomer was recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after averaging 13.8 points per game. He was again valuable in Monday’s night game on both ends of the court. His three-point shooting ability and active skills on defense are one of the few bright spots to build upon.
On one possession, Jordan Murphy was double-teamed in the post and found Daniel Oturu for an easy basket. Murphy will have plenty of opportunities to pass out of these situations when teams try to shut down his playmaking ability around the rim. Murphy is passing the ball really well to go along with his dominance in the paint. Murphy had nine points and eight rebounds within the first 13 minutes of the game. Murphy finished the night with 16 points and 11 boards, but fouled out with 5:33 remaining.
Boston College tried to double-team Murphy again and Oturu set a screen on the backside to open a passing lane for Gabe Kalscheur in the corner. Murphy reversed the ball and the Gophers’ best shooter knocked down an effortless three-pointer. The passing ability of Murphy, combined with Oturu’s skills around the post, has added another dimension to Minnesota’s offense. The Gophers often used high-low action with Murphy and Oturu to create easy baskets at the rim, too. Where Oturu really struggled was on the defensive end. He he was tasked with handling forward Nik Popovic. He really struggled with several of his post moves as Popovic scored 18 points. The Gophers could really use Eric Curry when returns to the lineup following knee surgery.
Minnesota had five early turnovers, several poor passes and numerous rushed possessions. This was a theme the entire night. One lazy inbound pass led to a steal and easy layup. Boston College led by five points until Minnesota went on a 12-1 run late in the first half. A Gabe Kalscheur three-pointer and two easy layups for Jordan Murphy helped put the Gophers on top by two points. However, they just couldn’t seem to take care of the basketball or put together quality possessions. Minnesota shot just 29 percent and relied heavily upon the offensive skills of Jordan Murphy and Gabe Kalscheur to keep the game close. The trend continued into the final 20 minutes of the game.
Defensively, the Gophers’ close-outs were inconsistent, which allowed Wynston Tabbs to hit several mid-range jumpers and three pointers. He had 17 points and five assists in 34 minutes of action. Minnesota’s miscommunications on defense simply gave Boston College too many easy baskets in the paint. The Eagles showed more energy and aggressiveness on the court. More importantly, Boston College only added 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting from their best player, Ky Bowman. The Gophers simply couldn’t kick into high gear at any point of the game.
It was a really tough night in every phase of the game. The Gophers will need to make major improvements before Friday night’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium against Oklahoma State.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball