House Report: Murphy and Mason go beast mode in an 86-74 win over Providence

DanielHouse

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The Gophers overcame a first half deficit to pick up a big 86-74 road win over the Providence Friars. Jordan Murphy scored 23 points and added 14 rebounds, while guard Nate Mason dropped 17 points in the road victory. Minnesota showed excellent resolve by making effort plays and key steals in the second half. The Gophers showed their experience and veteran leadership will make them fun to watch this year.

Fast start, but the Friars answered
The Gophers opened the game on a 12-0 run fueled by aggressive Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch finishes. Providence pushed the tempo and went on a run of their own to pull within two points. The Gophers displayed excellent ball movement during their early run and it created easy baskets for players like Lynch and Murphy. Minnesota also received more production from their guards after an off night last Friday. Nate Mason attacked off the dribble and freshman point guard Isaiah Washington drilled three jumpers. He started the game 3-for-4 and was putting defenders on their heels with his tough dribble moves. The young guard added a key steal and had eight points in 21 minutes.

Early in the game, Jordan Murphy was again playing aggressive and attacking off the dribble to create opportunities. This continued throughout the night. When Minnesota was relaxed and moved the ball in their sets, Murphy took over. He was winning off the dribble and using a variety of moves to cause headaches for the Providence defenders. Minnesota had 40 points in the paint and the Murphy/Reggie Lynch duo with a tough matchup for the Friars. Lynch was successful down low when he set up his moves and was composed in the post. However, he picked up his third foul and was forced to the bench in the second half.

Providence held the Gophers to a scoring drought over four minutes and back-to-back threes allowed the Friars to go on a 11-1 run over 2:39 in the first half. Minnesota again struggled to defend the three-pointer, allowing Providence to make 5 of their 9 first half tries. They led by six points with under two minutes left in the first half. Minnesota was losing inside on both ends of the floor and it allowed Providence to enter halftime with a 39-36 lead. The Gophers were just 1-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half, which really constricted their ability to have success inside. They also managed to weathered the storm as Providence shot 5-for-9 from behind the three-point stripe.

Gophers battle foul trouble
Minnesota battled foul trouble down low with Davonte Fitzgerald, Reggie Lynch and Bakary Konate at four fouls each. It exposed some of their depth concerns, especially with the loss of Eric Curry before the season. Both teams combined to tally 14 fouls in the first seven minutes of the second half. It was a physical battle and the Friars were winning it for a portion of the game. Minnesota will need to prevent major foul trouble down low, especially at the power forward spot. Luckily, they could overcome this on Monday night.

Effort plays stand out
Hustle and effort plays helped the Gophers fuel their second half surge. Back-to-back loose ball plays by Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy helped the Gophers reclaim a one-point lead with 11:23 left. Isaiah Washington added a steal and Dupree McBrayer made a slashing layup. Amir Coffey drilled back-to-back three-pointers and Minnesota led by nine points with 7:05 left. The Gophers started to play team basketball in the middle stages of the second half and their effort was apparent.

Michael Hurt provided nice minutes off the bench because of his strong passing skills and attacking ability. He is a very talented cutter and Minnesota moved the ball really well when he was on the floor. It allowed their offense to get into an improved rhythm and flow. When the offense can move the ball and get post touches, they are very difficult to stop. Not only that, but the guards can create when post players dish outside.

The Gophers showed how much they will benefit from the experience on their roster. Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason were dominant and Amir Coffey made timely three-point shots during a key run. The Gophers also received production from all of their guards, including Isaiah Washington.

Overall, it was an impressive team win for Minnesota on the road against a quality Providence squad.
 
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