Dec. 31, 2020: The Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota fell to the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin Thursday 71-59, in a New Year’s Eve showdown.
The Gophers entered this New Year’s Eve matchup with the No. 6 ranked Badgers supporting a three-game win streak. Wisconsin entered the game on the heels of a 70-64 home loss to Maryland. This was on Minnesota’s second home game of the season, the only other being a 92-65 loss to the hands of Illinois.
Minnesota got out to a start very similar to the one it saw Michigan State support Monday. Through 20 minutes of play, the Gophers committed seven turnovers, while only making six field goals. Gabe Kalscheur had his best half of basketball, as the former DeLaSalle guard recorded 12 first-half points on two made three-point field goals. They found no production at all from their bench without a single player scoring off the pine. Wisconsin spent the whole half feeding its big man, Micah Potter, as the super-senior finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in only a half of play. The Gophers only trailed 29-22 after their worst half of basketball in quite some time.
Unfortunately, the second half was much of the same story. The Gophers did their best to make the box score look better than what the game felt. A 12 point game is much closer than the rest of this contest played. Overall, Wisconsin completely shut down Marcus Carr limiting the future All-American to 3 of 13 shooting for a season-low 10 points, and the Gophers were not able to find consistent production from anyone else. Final score: Wisconsin: 71 Minnesota: 59.
What we learned:
First off, there is a lot of Big Ten season left, the Gophers have 16 games remaining on their schedule and any right-minded fan would realize Embarrassingly so, a 4-12 shooting night was Gabe Kalschuer’s best performance of the 2020 season. His three made three-pointers and 15 points were both a season-high. On the other end, Both Gach continues to struggle. After opening the season, as the clear No. 2 option on offense, Gach has struggled mightily since Big Ten play has begun. Similar to Kalschuer, Gach has been lockdown on the defensive end, but just seems lost on offense. The Gophers will need to find consistency from both players if they want to compete for a Big Ten championship.
Minnesota’s frontcourt has really come into its own, well at least the starters. Brandon Johnson and Liam Robbins are serious Big Ten players and they have looked great over the last several games. As for the bench, the Gophers will need to find post-production from the bench. Eric Curry for as great as it is to see him back has struggled to get in a rhythm. Jarvis Omersa’s departure has certainly hurt Minnesota’s overall depth at the position.
Lastly, a simple answer to why the Gophers struggled would be Marcus Carr. Minnesota simply could not consistently find production outside of the All-Big Ten guard and it showed up in the box score. The Big Ten is a long and grueling conference season, and Carr will not be able to carry the Gophers every game plain and simple.
What is next:
As I said, there is a lot of Big Ten season left, with 16 games on the schedule. There is still a lot to like about this team and Gophers fans should still be very optimistic for this team’s long-term future. Regression was due and unfortunately, it came in the form of a blowout in a rivalry game. A Jan. 3 home game with Ohio State is next on the Gophers’ schedule.