Gophers knock of Ohio State on the road 70-67 for first B1G win

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: Jamison Battle had one of his best starts of the season, making both of his field goal attempts. The Gophers took advantage of their star hitting his shots, leading 11-6 heading into the first media timeout. Minnesota’s hot start continued, assisting 5 of its first 8 field goals, leading 19-12 with 11 minutes to go in the half. Dawson Garcia began to settle into the game with his first seven points and Minnesota led 28-21. Coach Johnson and the Maroon & Gold ultimately put together one of their best halves of the season. Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 12 points and Minnesota led 37-35 heading into the break, as a +14.5 point underdog on the road.

  • Second Half: Dawson Garcia’s great stretch of basketball continued into the second half. With 7 quick points, the Gophers held onto a 46-44 lead heading into the u16 media timeout. Ohio State began to settle in, but the Gophers were not backing down. Leading 51-50 heading into the u12 media timeout it was the Buckeyes’ first lead since 2-0. An immediate 7-0 run put the Gophers back up 57-51 and Garcia’s presence on the court was all they needed. Thanks to great all-around play from the big three (Battle, Cooper and Garcia), Minnesota continued to control the pace of the game leading 64-56 with 4:40 to go. Ohio State wouldn’t go down without a fight, sticking with the Gophers all the way to the end. Free throws nearly cost them, but they were ultimately able to hold on 70-67.

Instant Reaction:

Dawson Garcia has turned a corner, and it has helped this team improve dramatically into 2023. Ta’Lon Cooper has been a consistent point guard all season, but Garcia playing at this level takes a tremendous amount of pressure off Jamison Battle to produce offensively and overall just opens the door for the Gophers offensively. Battle’s defense was tremendous in this game on potential NBA lottery pick Brice Sensabaugh, shutting him down in the first half. Overall, this was easily Minnesota’s most complete game of the season and it is starting to look like what Gophers fans had hoped this team would preseason.

With all that being said, Minnesota’s free throw shooting made this game a whole lot more stressful than it needed to be. The Maroon & Gold held one of the best offenses in college basketball to 38% shooting from the field and dominated them for much of 40 minutes. That is obviously an issue that I think everyone within the program needs to be fixed. Ultimately, it is always VERY difficult to win on the road in conference play and this is a win that can hopefully build some momentum as we enter the heart of the season.

What is Next?:

Life doesn’t get any easier, as the Gophers will now host Illinois in an MLK day special game at 5 pm on Monday. The Fighting Illini are one of the most talented teams in the country, voted to finish second preseason. Minnesota will likely be at least 6 or 7 points underdogs, so they would likely need to play another perfect game to pull off the upset. With the injuries, this team was never built to compete for a postseason birth, but at least they’re finally beginning to compete, something that all Gophers fans wished for on their Christmas list.

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