Gophers improve to 4-0 with win over UND

Both Gach led the way and helped give the Gophers their fourth straight win.

Guard+Marcus+Carr+shoots+at+Williams+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+25.+Minnesota+Golden+Gophers+won+against+Green+Bay+Phoenix+99-69.

Nur B. Adam

Guard Marcus Carr shoots at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Minnesota Golden Gophers won against Green Bay Phoenix 99-69.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

The Gophers’ men’s basketball team defeated University of North Dakota 76-67 behind a strong performance from the Gophers’ transfers. The Fighting Hawks kept the game close the whole way, but junior Both Gach put it away.

The Gophers got off to a slow start on both ends against University of North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks opened up the game on 9-for-13 from the field for an early 22-11 lead, their largest of the night.

Adjustments were made, and the Gophers defense made it a lot more difficult. Following the under-12 media timeout, UND shot 3-for-18 to close out the half and give the Gophers an opportunity to come back and take the lead. That lead was taken for the first time of the game with 1:58 left in the half.

Junior Jarvis Omersa and grad transfer Brandon Johnson were big reasons for all those defensive stops. Both played aggressively down low and helped force bad shot attempts by the Fighting Hawks. That sparked the transition game that the Gophers love to abuse other teams with.

“It’s huge, but we can’t do it without rebounding the ball,” head coach Richard Pitino said about the fastbreak game. “We’re pretty good when we get out and run. Overall, it’s such a weird time with a bunch of new guys that you’re just going to have to learn every single day you possibly can.”

Though the Gophers stepped up on defense and forced the Fighting Hawks to shoot 38% from the field by the end of the half, they weren’t much better. Aside from Gach’s 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, the Gophers were a combined 6-for-20 and went into half up just one.

Redshirt junior Marcus Carr, as good as he has been this year, is still trying to figure out how to put two dominant halves together. The junior came into the game averaging 29.7 points per game on 54.4% shooting. He shot 3-for-9 for just seven points in the first 20 minutes.

After dealing with foul trouble during his first start, Johnson stepped up for the Gophers on both ends. After helping spark the defense in the first, he helped give Minnesota some breathing room in the second. He scored 10 points in the second half to give him a season-high 15 points.

“That was probably his best game, he was physical at the basket, he was tough, he made plays when we needed him to,” Pitino said. “I thought we did a much better job in the second half establishing that low post threat. Brandon was really, really good down the stretch.”

The biggest difference between Johnson’s two starts was his ability to stay out of foul trouble. Last game he talked about how his fouls were things he could fix and he did just that.

“Majority of my fouls was just me trying to be overly aggressive, so I just kept my principles, stay disciplined, so I won’t get silly fouls,” Johnson said.

Carr shot better in the second, bringing his total up to 17 points on the night on 8-for-17 shooting. He also set a new season-high for assists with nine.

“For him, it’s just about being able to get other guys going, you know, he’s a great player, he’s gonna be one of those guys, he’s gonna be on top of everyone’s scouting report,” Gach said. “For him, it’s all about distributing the ball, making the right reads.”

Junior Liam Robbins finally showed the defense he displayed at Drake. As a sophomore he averaged just under three blocks a game, and on Friday he came up with five along with nine points. Robbins still is struggling on the offensive side, but his defense took a step forward.

Robbins isn’t the only Gopher continuing to struggle on offense. Junior Gabe Kalscheur can’t seem to buy a basket. After starting out the season 1-for-12 from deep, he went 1-for-5 from three against UND and managed just eight points.

Kalscheur is still looking to get back to his freshman year in terms of shooting, but Pitino isn’t worried about that at all. He still brings a lot to the team on the defensive end and continues to put the team in a position to win, and that’s what is important to Pitino.

“I don’t judge Gabe’s play by made threes or not. This is back-to-back games where he’s made winning plays. I don’t make a big deal about that. I clearly have faith in him, he’s still playing major minutes because he brings a lot of other great things to the table,” Pitino said.

The Gophers are back in action Dec. 8 when they host Boston College as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.