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    Default House Report: Gophers stomped in a 79-55 blowout at Michigan State

    When a team can’t shoot the basketball, the end result is never going to be positive. It’s especially the case when it comes against top-tier competition. Over the past two games, it’s simple -- the Gophers haven’t made shots. The trend continued during Saturday’s game as Minnesota struggled to knock anything down.

    Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy finished a combined 3-for-10 from the floor with nine total points. Coffey didn't score a single point until the 8:21 mark of the second half. The Gophers also made just 5-of their-14 three-point attempts in a 79-55 loss to Michigan State. Minnesota is just 9-for-43 (18 percent) from downtown in the past three games. It’s just one of many variables currently impacting the Gophers.

    On Saturday, Minnesota simply had no answer for Tom Izzo’s squad. The Gophers committed 16 turnovers, were dominated in the post and lost the rebounding margin. Nearly every phase of the game was poor on both ends of the court.

    Entering Saturday afternoon’s game, the Spartans had dropped three consecutive games, including a tough road loss at Illinois. A season-ending foot injury suffered by guard Joshua Langford has clearly impacted Michigan State on both ends of the court. This time, they attacked the post to get in a groove offensively. The Spartans used a dominant 22-point performance from big-man Nick Ward to pick up a much-needed win.

    It was clear early that Michigan State wanted to attack the post from the beginning. In the first few possessions, Ward backed down Daniel Oturu twice in the paint for finishes at the rim. Ward played one of his best games of the season and his physicality was a tough matchup for the Gophers’ low-post players. Michigan State doubled up Minnesota in the paint, 40-20, and set the tone with physicality inside. The Spartans also won the rebounding margin 38-33, while grabbing 11 offensive boards. Minnesota also made just 14 of its 23 free throw attempts and continue to leave opportunities at the line.

    Michigan State opened the game on a 12-0 run and Minnesota made just two of their first nine shots from the floor. The Gophers went more than four minutes without scoring and couldn’t put the ball through the net. Over the same span, the Spartans were 6-for-10 from the floor and grabbed an 11-point advantage. The lead extended to 16 points and Minnesota had zero fast break points near the midway point of the first half. The only spark the Gophers received in this game came from freshmen.

    In four games coming off the bench, freshman Daniel Oturu averaged 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore Eric Curry missed Saturday’s game with a calf injury, so Oturu was thrust into a starting role. He played at a high level offensively, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

    Minnesota went on a 7-0 run to trim Michigan State’s lead, behind strong post moves from Oturu. He was patient setting up his moves and the Gophers were getting him quality touches. When the offense runs through the post players, it helps Minnesota get improved looks, especially when they struggle to hit mid-range shots. Freshman Gabe Kalscheur was the only other player to provide a little offense for the Gophers. He had 14 points and continued to battle when shots were falling. Outside of the two freshmen, the Minnesota’ offense was ice cold again. Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy were a combined 0-for-5 from the floor until Murphy made a layup with 5:51 left in the first half. The duo finished 3-for-10 with nine total points.

    Coffey has struggled recently and is receiving plenty of attention as opponents scheme to take him away. He didn’t play much in the first half and hit the bench with three fouls, just 14 minutes into the game. In Coffey’s defense, he is consistently getting doubled and the Gophers don’t crisply move the ball to get out of poor situations. The Gophers stand around, don’t cut and attempt to dribble their way out of trouble. They don’t set strong screens or use any cutting to help create off-ball opportunities. Of course, shooting impacts a team’s spacing, but the Gophers are simply out of sorts when it comes to using the talent they have at their disposal.

    Another 12-2 run in the second half helped Michigan State extend its lead to 25 points with 12:36 remaining. Matt McQuaid knocked down back-to-back triples and the Spartans pulled away. They never looked back and cruised to an easy victory.

    The Gophers are simply too undisciplined in smaller aspects of the game. Their ability to rebound has been inconsistent, they commit too many turnovers and can’t hit shots. When they look to get the ball inside, the entry passes are sloppy and consistently get deflected. They also didn’t have a single fast break point until the midway point of the second half. When you consider the fact this team is built to get on the run, it’s perplexing they don’t push the tempo. Minnesota is simply out of sorts offensively and it’s amplified by the fact they can’t make any shots. When teams take away their best players (Coffey and Murphy), the Gophers don’t move the ball or cut. Instead, they simply try to dribble and it leads to unnecessary deflections. On the other end, help side defense has been slow, players are losing their their man and struggling to fight through screens hard.

    The Gophers need to do some serious soul-searching as they slowly creep toward the NCAA Tournament bubble. This is the third conference game where Minnesota has lost by more than 20 points. With all of the talent this team has, along with the outputs they are receiving from young players, missing the Big Dance would be disappointing for everyone involved.
    Last edited by DanielHouse; 02-09-2019 at 03:50 PM.


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