Gophers’ first half lead turns into double-digit loss

Despite strong performances from Minnesota’s guards, the Gophers weren’t able to pick up their first road win despite another halftime lead.

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Parker Johnson

Gophers center Liam Robbins leaps for the ball at Williams Arena on Friday, Dec. 4. The Gophers went on to a 76-67 victory over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

The Gophers’ men’s basketball team saw another first half lead slowly diminish into a double-digit loss. A strong outing from the starting guards wasn’t enough as Indiana was hitting shots without Minnesota’s top defender. The Hoosiers held off the Gophers and picked up the win 82-72 Wednesday night.

It wasn’t all too unconventional for the Gophers to go into half with a lead, which was in large part because of their starting guards. But before the game, news came out about junior Gabe Kalscheur being out indefinitely with a broken hand. That opened up a starting spot which was filled by freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr.

“I was gonna switch it up and put Jamal in [the starting lineup] anyway. Gabe got hurt on the last play of practice, ball just hit his finger and broke his finger. It’s really hard, but obviously with the right hand, tough blow, really tough blow,” head coach Ricahrd Pitino said.

Redshirt junior Marcus Carr and sophomore Tre’ Williams were just as effective in the first half as the three led the team in scoring as Minnesota went into half with a 37-35 lead. Carr, who has struggled shooting the ball on the road, went into the break with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Mashburn Jr. had 10 with Williams right behind with nine.

“Guys just have to step up. We got a team full of guys who can play and when your number is called, you gotta be ready to step up,” Williams said of Kalscheur’s injury.

Without the Gophers’ best defender, Indiana still ran into plenty of problems whilst on offense in the first half. They turned the ball over eight times which resulted in 11 points for Minnesota. Indiana couldn’t match that number as the Gophers only turned the ball over three times which resulted in no points for the Hoosiers.

Carr and Mashburn were both able to tie for the team-high Wednesday with 19 points, giving Mashburn Jr. a new career high. Williams didn’t have the best second half but was able to surpass double-digits and end with 11 on the night.

“I think [Mashburn Jr.] is a really good player. He can score in a variety of ways, he’s got a unique mid-range game that a lot of people don’t have anymore. He can get to the basket, he was getting to the free throw line,” Pitino said. “I think Jamal will be a terrific player.”

The Gophers continued their attack on points off turnovers and kept pace on scoring off the Hoosiers’ mistakes. Minnesota finished with 25 points off 17 Indiana turnovers.

Another reason why the Gophers were able to go into the half with the lead was because of their well-timed threes. Minnesota only shot 4-of-11 from deep, but their makes came at the perfect time to get the game back to tied or stop a run. Unfortunately, they finished off the game 0-of-9 from deep and continued to struggle in that area.

“We got a little bit 3-point happy there when we needed to keep driving; they were having trouble keeping us in front of them. We got a little bit in love with the three, we gotta keep living at the rim. We were 4-for-20 when we probably should’ve been 4-14, five or six less would’ve been good,” Pitino said.

As hard as Minnesota played, the Hoosiers were able to always have an answer for a Gophers push. That was in large part because of their 3-point shooting which seemed to get hot at the wrong times for Minnesota.

Indiana shot just 2-of-5 from deep in the first half, but got hot in the second in their effort to fight back and extend its lead. In the second half, the Hoosiers shot 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and that was the biggest difference in the game.

It wasn’t just their three game where they got hot; after shooting an impressive 50% from the field in the first half, they surpassed that in the second half as they saw their lead continue to grow. Minnesota had a lead for over half the game, but the Hoosiers shot even better in the second half and retook the lead and ran with it.

On top of their 71.4% shooting from deep, Indiana connected on 66.7% of its shots in the entire second half to turn a close game into a double-digit loss.

Another big difference came in the rebounding, but that is expected when a team shoots 40% compared to 57.8%. Minnesota even outrebounded Indiana on the offensive glass 13 to 10, but Indiana finished in front in the rebounding game by 10 boards.

“It played a role because they got second chances, pretty much when we needed a stop at that time. It was mainly little mistakes in crucial moments that killed us tonight,” redshirt senior forward Brandon Johnson said. “The times that we didn’t box out, we shot ourselves in the foot for sure.”

The Gophers fought until the end, but again, fell short and blew a road, first-half lead. The guard play wasn’t enough to overcome the loss of Kalscheur on defense and the shooting performance Indiana put on.

Minnesota is back at home when they host No. 5 Illinois in a revenge game Feb. 20 and try to pick up another top-10 win.