Team struggles to maintain pressure D

Andrew Krammer

Minnesota has sprinted out to huge leads in the first half of each of its nonconference games this season.

The Gophers have a combined 56-point advantage in their first halves against American and Toledo.

But a season in the Big Ten is a marathon, and the Gophers need to treat it like one.

After taking a 48-22 lead into the locker room against Toledo on Monday, Minnesota struggled with its intensity in the second half.

“I felt like collectively we lowered our energy level,” said senior Rodney Williams. “We had spurts where we picked it back up. But it’s not a good thing to start doing that this early in the season.”

The Rockets tied Minnesota in the second half of play, 34-34.

“The environment, energy of the whole game went down,” said sophomore Joe Coleman.

Minnesota held its opponents to an average 24 percent shooting in the first halves. That number increases to 32 percent in the second halves. *

While they’ve played well defensively, the Gophers have faced very low-tiered opponents, and their schedule only gets tougher from here.

“In the Big Ten, it’s so intense compared to nonconference games,” said junior Austin Hollins. “We can’t let up even a little bit. The teams are so good.”

As the Gophers have tired from applying full-court pressure, they’ve turned the ball over at a higher clip in the second half.

Of Minnesota’s 27 turnovers this season, 17 have come in the second half.

Williams said he’s not worried about the drop in level of play.

“We just rush things and try to make something happen when it’s too late,” Williams said. “I think we all have a tendency to do that, but it can’t get any worse [than 19 turnovers against Toledo]. We’re only looking up from here.”