The Minnesota Gophers began their 2020-21 basketball campaign Wednesday night, defeating the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix 99-69.
The Gophers began the night on fire, jumping out to a 12-0 lead. A rather dominating first half saw Minnesota take a 53-22 lead into the locker room. Utah transfer, Both Gach was as-good as advertised playing very active and showing his versatility with 10 points four rebounds, and great defense. Marcus Carr led all scorers with 14 points.
The second half was a different story. The Phoenix jumped out to a 13-6 run, and the Gophers looked sluggish. The sloppy play continued, as Green Bay cut the lead all the way down to 10 at one point. Then Marcus Carr quickly proved why he is an All-Big Ten player. He took-over down the stretch finishing with a remarkable 35 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Gophers start 1-0 and win by 30.
Player of the Game: Marcus Carr
7/7 from FT line
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) November 26, 2020
What is next:
- The positive: After a terrific redshirt-sophomore season in 2019, Marcus Carr has somehow gotten better. There is no reason why the Toronto, Ontario native cannot compete for Big Ten player of the year. Both Gach played terrific on both ends of the floor, asserting his versatility and length. The former Austin, Minnesota high school star proved well worth the hype, as he was the second-best player on the floor for the Gophers. Drake, transfer Liam Robbins got in foul trouble early, and he initially seemed to struggle to get into the game’s rhythm, but the big man, fortunately, put together a productive second half and finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Lastly, it was great to see Eric Curry back on the floor and play serious minutes for Gophers’ basketball. Overall Richard Pitino’s team’s depth shined brightest. Omersa, Johnson, Ihnen, Mitchell, Freeman, and Mashburn were all productive with their limited minutes off the bench. This will arguably be the deepest Gophers team since 2016-17.
- The negative: Gabe Kalscheur played well, being active on defense, and finished with 17 points, but he was the head of the Gophers’ one glaring issue. Last year’s 2019 Gophers team’s Achilles heel was three-point shooting. It limited the team’s ceiling and winning games was almost reliant on how well they shot from beyond the arc. Kalscheur finished 1 for 8 behind the three-point line, as the Gophers shot 7 for 34 (20.6%) from three as a team giving Pitino a coaching point heading into practice.
The Gophers certainly flashed how great they can be this season, but their three-point shooting will HAVE TO improve if they want to be competitive throughout the Big Ten conference season. They played great defense forcing 23 total Green Bay turnovers. The theme of this team will be its superb depth going forward.
Minnesota’s next game will be Nov. 28 against Loyola Marymount and they have six total non-conference games remaining headlined by a Dec. 8 matchup with Boston College. Their first Big Ten game will begin on Dec. 15 against Illinois. There is no reason that this Gophers team cannot be competitive in the Big Ten.