Bad shot selection gives U road loss

by Anthony Maggio

Maybe somebody switched the game plans before Wednesday night’s contest.

Minnesota’s men’s basketball team was supposed to do in Ohio State with a full bench and a size advantage in the paint.

Instead, the Buckeyes won 73-68 using the Gophers’ advantages as their own.

After establishing their long-lost post game Saturday against Michigan, and facing an Ohio State team missing their 7-foot center Velimir Radinovic, the Gophers men’s basketball team should’ve shredded the Buckeyes thin, shorter front line.

Instead, Minnesota (12-7, 4-4 Big Ten) avoided the paint like the plague and jacked a season-high 36 threes.

“We settled for a lot of threes when we should have been going inside more,” coach Dan Monson said.

Ohio State came into the game undersized and undermanned. Radinovic injured his hand Tuesday in practice, leaving him in the hospital for Wednesday’s game. Point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham sat out as well.

The Buckeyes (11-9, 4-5) played only seven men, as Minnesota went its usual 10 deep. All the pieces were in place for the Gophers to win their second straight road game and fourth straight overall.

But Minnesota decided to revert back to living and dying by its three-point shooting and died a terrible 2-of-18 death in the second half.

“Teams have wanted to shoot a lot of threes against our zone defense the last two games,” Buckeyes coach Jim O’Brien said. “If teams want to approach us this way, we will have to deal with it.”

Ohio State’s collapsing zone defense kept the Gophers from getting the ball to the post in their half-court set throughout the game.

Meanwhile the Buckeyes, who were overmatched inside, attacked Minnesota’s big men and reached the foul line 32 times as a result.

The Gophers, who could have caused major foul problems for Ohio State’s short bench, instead took only seven shots from inside the three-point line in the first half. Minnesota made it to the charity stripe a mere 16 times in the contest.

Offensively, the Buckeyes received welcome help from their bench. Sixth man Emonte Jernigan went 5-of-8 from behind the arc to boost his game and career-high 21 points.

Backup center Matt Marinchick, who scored seven points all season before Wednesday, scored 10 points on the Gophers inside.

“I had to do this for (Radinovic),” Marinchick said. “Everyone needs to do their part to get open down low and get the shots.”

Overall, Ohio State’s bench outscored the Gophers bench 31-8.

“We have to give tremendous credit to Marinchick and Jernigan,” O’Brien said. “I really appreciate guys who do not play a whole lot but stay with it.”

Still, Minnesota was within three with under a minute to play. But after Brent Darby hit two free throws, Maurice Hargrow missed the front end of a one-and-one with 29 seconds left.

Rick Rickert followed Hargrow’s botched free throw with two misses from three-point land.

The shots were the only two for the Big Ten preseason player of the year in the final 6:30.

Hargrow led the Gophers with 17 points, while Rickert, Holman and Michael Bauer all finished in double figures.

Anthony Maggio covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]