House Report: Oturu scores 22 points, but Gophers’ backcourt struggles in a 72-52 loss to Iowa


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Feb 8, 2017
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When an opponent gets on the move, transition defense is really important. During the Gophers’ first Big Ten game of the season, Iowa’s tempo caused headaches for Minnesota. Guard Joe Wieskamp scored 23 points to fuel the Hawkeyes' 72-52 win.

Minnesota struggled to get back on defense and shots weren’t falling from behind the arc. Iowa scored 18 points in fastbreak situations, including numerous long-range hits.

Within the first three minutes, Wieskamp quickly drilled a pair of three-pointers. He had 16 first-half points and was confidently shooting in transition. The Hawkeyes got on the run, pushed the tempo and knocked down shots from behind the arc. Minnesota struggled to hit open looks and missed seven consecutive shots in a row. Daniel Oturu did an excellent job of defending Luka Garza. Minnesota schemed to help double Garza in the post. However, he still finished the night with 21 points and 10 rebounds, including several tough moves in the post.

Throughout the game, forward Alihan Demir had valuable minutes, including two early three-pointers. He also hustled to several loose balls, crashed the offensive glass and swatted away a shot on the defensive end. Demir was very impactful on the defensive end and altered many of the Hawkeyes’ shots. The graduate transfer from Drexel had 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. His contributions will be key as Minnesota searches for a legitimate contributor at the forward position.

The Gophers committed 15 turnovers, including several deflected post touches. Minnesota also wasn’t hitting shots and went on multiple four-minute scoring droughts. Iowa started a 9-0 run by continuing to push the tempo. Payton Willis ended the deficit by dropping a sweet no-look pass to Daniel Oturu. Oturu finished Monday night’s game with 22 points (10-for-12 shooting), 12 rebounds and five blocks. His physical growth has been showing up down low, especially when he posts up on the low block. On the defensive end, he handles powerful moves and makes low-post players earn every made basket. Oturu did commit eight turnovers, but nearly all of those issues were the result of high-post dribbling. The Gophers have to get Oturu natural touches where he isn’t asked to dribble as much.

Oturu had a big night, but the Gophers’ backcourt struggled to get going.

Minnesota had several open looks, but three-point shots weren’t falling. Guard Gabe Kalscheur missed all ten of his shots, including eight looks from downtown. He never caught fire and didn’t score a single point. The duo of Marcus Carr and Kalscheur had a combined two points and went 1-for-20 from the floor. Minnesota shot just 37 percent and finished the night 6-for-25 from downtown.

In the second half, Payton Willis gave the Gophers’ offense a glimmer of light by hitting a deep three-pointer. Willis’ play has clearly been impacted by a recent leg injury. The redshirt junior only made two of his nine shot attempts, but had two key passes to create open looks for his teammates. Minnesota’s starting guards combined to score ten points on just 3-for-29 shooting. The Gophers’ low post players, including Oturu, Demir and Jarvis Omersa helped keep the team within striking distance. Omersa’s low-post defense continues to be an impressive part of his game. He’s still evolving on the offensive end, but makes so many high energy plays defensively.

Later in the game, Minnesota went on a 7-0 run, which was sparked by a sweet post move and finish by Oturu. He added a long three-pointer and trimmed Iowa’s lead to just ten points near the midway point of the second half. Wieskamp quickly answered in transition, putting an end to the Gophers’ late surge.

If Minnesota is going to be competitive in the Big Ten, guard play will be paramount. Right now, the Gophers aren’t getting enough production from the backcourt. If they can, Minnesota’s low-post players are showing upside and promise.
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