Gophers uneven on threes

The team has shot 41.8 percent from three in wins but only 25.8 in losses.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers have toed the line between winning and losing many games this season, often by staying behind another.
 
The Gophers’ three-point shooting and defense has defined much of their season so far. When they’re making threes and defending the line well, the team has been successful, but when they’re not, they struggle.
 
“I don’t think we are a great shooting team,” head coach Richard Pitino said after Saturday’s game against South Dakota. “That’s a concern of mine.”
 
The Gophers have averaged shooting 41.8 percent from deep in their five wins.
 
Their best game from three-point range came against Missouri State, when they shot 56.5 percent.
 
The team’s percentage has plummeted in their three losses,  as the team has shot only 25.8 percent combined from three.
 
The Gophers have looked to their inside presence in recent games when their three-point shots aren’t falling. Freshman forward Jordan Murphy has responded with back-to-back double-doubles against Clemson last week and South Dakota on \Saturday.
 
“[Three-point shooting] is important, but if it’s not a major part of what we’re doing, we’ve got to adjust, and we’ve got to do different things offensively that I think we’re doing,” Pitino said.
 
The Gophers’ poor three-point shooting in their losses has been compounded by poor defense from the three-point line.
 
Minnesota allowed its opponents to shoot 40 percent from three combined in those three games, and the Gophers were outshot from behind the arc in each one.
 
The Gophers’ defense has allowed opponents to shoot 38.4 percent overall from three this season, which is third-worst in the Big Ten. 
 
Senior forward Joey King has been the Gophers’ best three-point shooter this season, averaging 52.4 percent from behind the arc.
 
King has had two games so far this year where he’s made six three-pointers, and against Nebraska-Omaha he was a perfect 4-4 from deep.
 
The Gophers won all four of those games.
 
The senior has followed the team’s trend in losses, however, with poorer three-point shooting, going 3-14 from deep in three of those games.
 
King has only made two of his last eight three-point attempts, though in the last two games he still scored 34 combined points on 19 total shots.
 
“What we have to do is balance shooting the ball and going into the post. … Some of our games sometimes we get too attached to the three-point line. Sometimes we get caught up staring at the post too much,” King said. “We just got to find a nice balance between those two things, and I think that’s when we’ll be most efficient offensively.”