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    Default House Report: Gophers blow past Rutgers for an 88-70 win

    After dropping a hard-fought game against Maryland Tuesday night, the Gophers faced a young Rutgers team at Williams Arena. The Scarlet Knights knocked off No. 16 Ohio State on Wednesday and showed off all of their potential. Minnesota found a way to attack Rutgers’ zone defense, handling all of the team’s length and athleticism. The Gophers had four players in double figures, including 29 points from Amir Coffey in an 88-70 win.

    It didn’t take long for the Gophers to get things going. Minnesota opened the game with three consecutive three-pointers, including long range hits from Amir Coffey, Gabe Kalscheur and Dupree McBrayer. Throughout the afternoon, the Gophers’ guards were hitting timely shots from downtown. Rutgers was already without big-man Eugene Omoruyi and lost guard Caleb O’Connell to an apparent injury. Minnesota took advantage by displaying impressive ball movement.

    In the first half, the Gophers’ six-point lead trimmed down to a single point when Rutgers went into a zone defense. Minnesota has struggled with these defensive looks this season, but finally found a way to pass the ball and attack it. Players were moving off the ball and cutting to open spots. This put a stress on Rutgers’ defense as Minnesota passed the ball rapidly. When Rutgers switched into the zone defense, the Gophers were tasked with handling all of their length. The Scarlet Knights have the sixth-tallest roster among Division-1 programs.

    Dupree McBrayer was also active on both ends of the court, specifically on defense. He created a turnover with his on-ball defense and drilled a three-pointer on the next possession. McBrayer also got ahead of the defense in transition and Isaiah Washington delivered an excellent pass to create an easy basket. McBrayer had 15 points and ten assists, helping the Gophers maximize possessions. His attacking mentality, defense and shooting ability has added another dimension to Minnesota’s offense. When the Gophers manage to get on the run, they show off all of their natural athleticism and passing ability.

    Rutgers was in a zone and switched back to man defense for a quick 8-1 run. The Scarlet Knights reverted back to zone and Gabe Kalscheur drained a three-pointer. For most of the first half, Minnesota kept the advantage around six points due to timely three-pointers and quality possessions.

    The Gophers’ on-ball defense helped them create deflections and force turnovers. Gabe Kalscheur was doing a great job of locking down Geo Baker and caused him to take tough shots. Kalscheur’s shooting helped Minnesota break the zone on numerous occasions, too. Not only that, but the passing by several players, including Michael Hurt helped the Gophers poke holes in Rutgers’ defensive attack. Isaiah Washington was also valuable by using dribble penetration and getting quality touches into the paint. Washington received more minutes and provided valuable contributions offensively, posting eight points and five assists. In the late stages of the game, Washington was ejected after a fight with Rutgers guard Montez Mathis. Mathis tossed the ball at Washington’s stomach and he retaliated by throwing the ball back at his head. Both players had to be separated by coaches.

    During the second half, Minnesota continued to push the ball. Amir Coffey attacked down the baseline and delivered a massive slam dunk to get the Williams Arena faithful on their feet. Coffey was aggressive all afternoon and scored 29 points in 34 minutes of action. Everything was clicking for the Gophers’ offense because of sound passing and ball movement.

    After shooting just 39 percent at the free-throw line in Tuesday’s loss to Maryland, the Gophers took advantage of opportunities. They have managed to get to the line in past games, but failing to convert played a big role in Minnesota losing its most recent Big Ten game. In Saturday’s game, the Gophers shot 80 percent (20-for-35) from the line and continued to find opportunities.

    Head coach Richard Pitino said Friday that Jordan Murphy needed more touches to be actively involved on offense. From the start, it was apparent this was part of the Gophers’ gameplan. Murphy shot just 3-for-12 from the floor, but still managed to post 15 points.

    Eric Curry flashed impressive footwork in the post to finish at the rim helped the Gophers grab an early six-point lead. Curry is looking more comfortable and confident with every minute he is getting on the floor. He saw additional action in this game and may need more time to establish conditioning, specifically on defense.

    Last edited by DanielHouse; 01-12-2019 at 01:28 PM.

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