Gophers ride Carr again in win

In an unusual back-to-back against LMU, Marcus Carr hit a go-ahead three pointer as Minnesota swept the Lions and improved to 3-0.


Gophers Guard Marcus Carr dribbles the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. The Gophers went into the second half with a 47-31 lead over the Maryland Terrapins.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

It wasn’t a pretty win, but a win is a win. While the Gophers struggled on the defensive boards and gave the Lions chances to stay in the game, redshirt junior Marcus Carr bailed Minnesota out, continuing his dominant start and scoring 26 points, including a game-winning three pointer.

“It was terrific. We ran a play that he got fouled on and then, I think, the next one we ran it again he turned it over and to have the confidence to tell me, “Hey, run it again, I’m fine I just fell down.” Marcus, his shot, was obviously amazing, won us the game,” head coach Richard Pitino said.

In the second of back-to-back games against Loyola Marymount University, the Gophers barely came out with a win. After holding the Lions to 22% from the field in the first half, they shot 46.2% in the second as the Gophers held on to win 67-64.

Another slow start from the Gophers allowed the Lions to remain in reach throughout the first half. They were getting beat on the offensive glass and gave the Lions too many free throws to stay within striking distance. The Lions scored just 26 points in the first half, with half of them coming from the charity stripe in 14 attempts.

Just like last game, the Gophers continued to force turnovers on the defensive end. They limited the Lions to just six made field goals in the first half, but couldn’t come down with all the misses. The Lions pulled down 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and seven more in the second.

“We played good defense, we just didn’t rebound the ball and a lot of that is a testament to Loyola,” Pitino said.

Holding the Lions to just 22% from the field wasn’t enough for the Gophers to grab a big halftime lead. They went into half up by just five points. On the offensive end, the Gophers used their transition game well and turned 11 first half turnovers into 12 points.

LMU learned its lesson the first time around and quieted Carr early. The Lions held Carr to just five first half points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field. With Carr quiet on the offensive end, junior Both Gach stepped up and led the team with eight points along with three boards and two assists.

Little did the Lions know, Carr wasn’t going to go without a fight. With junior Gabe Kalscheur continuing to struggle offensively, junior Liam Robbins and grad transfer Brandon Johnson finding themselves in foul trouble once again, Carr started to heat up.

Carr managed to find other ways to score with coast-to-coast action, out-of-bounds plays and spot up threes. He scored 21 points in the second half, including nine of the Gophers’ last 13 points. The biggest was the game winning three with 2.9 seconds left.

“They came out with a bit of a different game plan on trying to guard us and how to guard me. I had a full 20 minutes how to assess that and a 10 minute break at half, kind of just went through that in my head and realized how they were guarding me. I made certain adjustments, tried to get more easy baskets in transition,” Carr said.

Robbins held his own most of the first half, but again found himself with three fouls and was forced to sit for the rest of the half. Just six minutes into the second half he picked up his fourth and again was forced to sit. Even though LMU matches Big Ten size, his early season foul trouble is concerning, particularly if it continues into conference play.

“They were a very physical team, they’re very well-coached team, very talented team. To get adjusted to the Big Ten physicality, this is a good test for me. Obviously I’ve been in foul trouble, part of that, I think, is just because we haven’t had exhibition games,” Robbins said. “These games are huge and just taking it one game at a time, one day at a time, trying to get better.”

In his first start of the season for the Gophers, Johnson played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble and fouled out of the game with six minutes remaining. He finished with just two points and four rebounds. Robbins and junior Jarvis Omersa both fouled out down the stretch as well.

“We sent them to the foul line 32 times, we had all types of foul trouble in the front court. But it was more how do you block out without fouling, how do you defend without fouling. We were in and out of foul trouble and that was hard,” Pitino said. “We gotta be more physical.”

Kalscheur continued his struggles early in his third year. After shooting just 3-for-8 last time out against the Lions, he followed it up with a 1-for-11 outing, going 0-for-4 from deep. The three-point threat isn’t there anymore as he is now 1-for-12 from behind the arc this year.

For the second game in a row, Gach found Omersa in transition for a highlight-reel alley-oop. And Omersa wasn’t finished after that, he went between two defenders for a putback dunk after a missed jumper by redshirt senior Eric Curry.

The Gophers, behind Carr’s 26 points, were able to avoid a loss after allowing 18 offensive rebounds and 32 free throw attempts. However, Carr gives credit to his teammates for putting him in a spot for the game-winner.

“When people watch the highlights, see the video, they might think I’m the one who won the game. But to be honest it was Gabe who won the game, he came in the game and had three huge plays,” Carr said. “He took that charge, then guarded again and we were able to get the stop and he hit the free throws as well.”