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Iowa Hawkeyes strike down UMN men’s basketball 68-56

Aggressive defense got the Gophers into foul trouble early on, and Iowa’s defense created frustration.
Image by CJ Bonk
Guard Ta’Lon Cooper shoots the ball during the game against Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 12.

Gophers men’s basketball had difficulty getting shots in Sunday’s matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Still without their top scorer, Dawson Garcia, the Gophers failed to match Iowa’s offensive pace.

The first minute of the game started with Iowa guard Tony Perkins knocking down two buckets, putting the Gophers down early. Iowa’s proceeding scoring efforts swiftly grew their lead, and before the game was two minutes in, Iowa was winning 9-2.

Recognizing the unfavorable situation, Minnesota freshman Pharrel Payne began to bump his body around. His physical style of play, often deployed in an attempt to flip the game’s momentum, became sporadic.

He picked up two fouls and was pulled from the game to avoid fouling out. Minnesota Head Coach Ben Johnson subbed freshman Joshua Ola-Joseph back in minutes later. The exchange lit a much-needed spark on offense.

Ola-Joseph scored 6 points on four shots in the first half and defended the perimeter efficiently. He would finish as the team’s highest scorer with 11 points.

Other key factors alongside Ola-Joseph were freshman Jaden Henley, who scored 7 points, and junior Ta’Lon Cooper, who dished out three assists. Together the three Gophers helped shorten the deficit to just three points at halftime.

The break did not stiffen scoring from either team as they replied to each score with a bucket of their own. The exchanging continued until Iowa forward Kris Murray broke the pattern by nailing a 3-pointer off a Gopher turnover.

For the next 10 minutes, it was the Gophers against Iowa’s Filip Rebraca and Murray. The two forwards combined for 19 points and moved their lead over Minnesota to 7 points.

In that same time frame, Payne made a confident return and reclaimed his dominant off-ball presence. His second-half production totaled six rebounds, one assist and three blocks.

Minnesota’s defense gave the team a fighting chance through the majority of the second half. It kept their deficit floating between 5 and 9 points, offering a glimmer of hope.

But as the game ticked down to the final minutes, Iowa adjusted its defense to a full-court press. The press showed promise in the first half and was a catalyst in forcing 10 Gopher turnovers. And just as the first half entailed, the adjustment worked.

Minnesota’s offense began to suffocate under pressure and went scoreless for three minutes. Iowa took advantage and increased its lead to 14 points.

By then, it was too late. The Gophers played catch-up by fouling the Hawkeyes, putting them on the free-throw line and hoping they would miss. The lead Iowa amassed was too much to overcome and the Gophers lost 68-56.

Minnesota’s next matchup was scheduled to be on Wednesday in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan announced Monday night that all activities would be postponed for the next 48 hours, including the basketball game, following the an on-campus shooting.

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