Minnesota fell to Iowa at Williams Arena 58-55. The Gophers failed to score a field goal during the last five minutes to blow an eight point lead, and now face a zero margin for error for trying to get into post season play. Daniel Oturu led all Minnesota scorers with 15 points.
The macro problems for the season continued during this game. The Gophers had an effective field goal percentage of just 41%. They were just 28% from behind the arc, and only 6-12 from the free throw line. At the line, they missed two critical front ends of one and one opportunities, the second miss occurring with three seconds to play in the game. It is hard to win when the players cannot execute the offense, harder still when the players cannot execute the one crucial aspect of the offense (three point shots). Marcus Carr and Payton Willis combined to go 6/21 from the field, which makes it difficult to beat any team in the league.
On top of the macro problems, Minnesota had five turnovers and a lane violation in the closing minutes of the game, which is why they did not score any points from the field during the closing minutes, and why they lost.
There is now no margin for error for the rest of the season. The Gophers have to win at least five games to get in the tournament, two of which have to be Northwestern and Nebraska. They also likely need to steal a game to feel any level of comfort at all.
Alihan Demir had his worst game as a Gopher. The early strategy to match him against Garza was a miserable failure, resulting in 10 early points from the Iowa star. Demir compounded the defensive weakness by going just 2-7 from the field and committing two turnovers. I should note here that I do not think that Demir is a weak player generally, just that there are matchups for which he will be ill-suited. Tonight was one of those.
Conversely, Isaiah Ihnen had his best game as a Gopher, and I am continuing to scratch my head as to why he and Omersa are not playing the majority of the minutes in situations where Minnesota gives up a size advantage in the post. In particular, if Demir is not giving the team offense, then it makes no sense to consistently keep a defensive weakness on the floor.
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