After slow start Gophers dominate Purdue Fort Wayne 78-49

Nov. 19, 2021: After a slow start, the Golden Gophers improved to 4-0 on the season taking down Purdue Fort Wayne 78-49 in another convincing victory.

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: There were no surprises in the starting lineup, as the Gophers rolled out the same group of five for the fourth consecutive game. The Maroon & Gold started slow out of the gate, falling down 9-0 early thanks to 7 early points from Purdue Fort Wayne’s leading scorer Jalon Pipkins. It took a while for Minnesota to settle in but senior New Hampshire transfer forward Sean Sutherlin provided the spark off the bench that it needed. His 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and great defense jump-started a 10-0 run, which evened the game at 15. The Irondale, Minn. native’s hot start rolled well into the rest of the half. His team-high 11 points and 4 rebounds were exactly what they needed to retake control of the game. His +/- was a team-high 12 when he went to the bench for the first time. Surprisingly, leading-scorer Jamison Battle was the only player on the Gophers not to make a field goal in the first half. That paired with 2-9 shooting from three in the first half, should’ve left Ben Johnson very pleased to have a 31-26 lead at the break.

  • Second HalfJamison Battle was able to get back in rhythm in the second half. 8 quick points from him and a three-pointer from E.J. Stephens extended the Gophers lead to as many as 14 early in the second half. Sutherlin picked up off the bench right where left off — with four quick points of his own, Minnesota hot start to the second half continued ballooning its lead to as many as 20 about halfway through. Much improved defense and an overall cleaner half, helped the Maroon & Gold stick around a 20 point lead for much of the second 20 minutes. They were able to extend the lead all the way to 30+, and both Treyton Thompson and Danny Ogele were able to get their first minutes in a Gophers uniform. An overall dominant second half made the early 8-0 deficit seem like ages ago.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

I think the biggest question from this game is whether or not Sean Sutherlin should remain as the sparkplug off the bench, or move into the starting lineup for the Gophers. After 14 points on Sunday against Princeton and 19 points today, he has played like one of the best players on the team. Luke Loewe has played well in his own right with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, so I don’t think you can go wrong either way — but the Gophers’ top-six rotational players have certainly established themselves. I personally would continue to have Sutherlin as the sixth man, but I know there will be some clamoring for him to move to the starting lineup.

After falling down 8-0 to start this game, it was awesome to see how this team responded. Ben Johnson and his players never looked panicked, and they stuck to their game plan. Jamison Battle responded with 12 points in the second half, after his slow start to the game, and this looked like a completely different team in half number two. E.J. Stephens had a huge bounce-back second half in his own right with 11 points of his own. Overall this team has still not faced a team with a clear advantage in the size department which will catch up to them at some point. But all of the guards on this team are terrific rebounders, Sutherlin, Loewe and Stephens have all been superb in that department. It obviously was not against the greatest competition, but it is still something to monitor. At the end of the day, this team is playing together which is great to see from a group with so many different additions.

What is Next?:

Minnesota will have a four-day break, until its next home game against the Jacksonville Dolphins of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Dolphins are 2-1 this season with only one win over a division one program. The Gophers’ first real test will come on Nov. 30 on the road against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. You obviously have to take this 4-0 start with a grain of salt, but a team that seemed like they would lack serious depth has found a terrific six-man rotation with six different guys that can go for 15+ any time they go on the floor. This team’s ceiling still might be low, but they will certainly be fun to watch every time they step on the floor.

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