Jan. 30, 2021: The Purdue Boilermakers got the best of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday, resulting in a 81-62 Gophers’ loss.
Before Saturday’s contest between Minnesota and Purdue, it was announced that the Boilermakers’ second-leading scorer Sasha Stefonivic (11.1 PPG) would be out for the second consecutive game due to COVID-19. The Gophers reacted with a change to their roster, as Richard Pitino opted to move Tre Williams into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Both Gach.
The first half was a three-point barrage for the Golden Gophers. The Big Ten’s worst three-point shooting team (29.5%) shot a remarkable 7-16 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. The flux of long-range makes helped the Gophers offense overcome zero first-half points from Marcus Carr. On the defensive end, Minnesota allowed a whopping 11 Purdue offensive rebounds. Eight first-half points from Tre Williams, Eric Curry, and Brandon Johnson is what ultimately helped the Gophers carry a 35-30 lead heading into the half.
Minnesota’s first-half mishaps caught up to them in half number two. The three-point success vanished, as the Gophers shot 3-12 from long range in the second half. Marcus Carr continued to struggle to find any rhythm offensively, finishing with a season-low six points, along with only five assists and four rebounds. The Gophers’ struggles on the defensive glass only got worse, as Purdue picked up six more offensive rebounds. You could certainly say that Minnesota lost this game, but I would argue that Purdue just dominated in the second half. 60% shooting from the field and 80% from three point range would be very difficult for any team to overcome.
What we learned:
I believe that the biggest takeaway from this game is that this team will only go as far as Marcus Carr takes them. When he is not “on” they simply become a substantially easier team to guard plain and simple.
A positive from this game should be that Liam Robbins’ long-term potential looks as high as ever. He continues to improve every game, and I think by the time that his Gophers’ career is over we could see him be a first-team All Big Ten player. His skill on both ends of the floor is NBA-level for a player of his size.
What is next:
As for the short-term future of this team I think its fair to say that this team is no more than a traditional Richard Pitino tournament team. Overall, I think this Gophers is nearly a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, but I am not sure if their ceiling is much higher than the second round. They certainly have the talent of a Sweet-16 team, but there becomes a point where you have to make shots. It is very hard to play winning basketball in 2021 if you’re not consistently making threes and this Gophers’ team is not consistently making threes.
Minnesota still does not have a ranked team on the schedule until a Feb. 20 matchup with Illinois, so there is still hope for this team to go on a run and find their rhythm once more. College basketball is a long season, but I think we have hit a low-point of this one for the Gophers.