Gophers Lose vs Iowa Because They Can’t Shoot; Tourney Hopes Now Dimming

Iowa’s Luka Garza (55) handles the ball against Minnesota’s Alihan Demir, left, and Daniel Oturu during an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

When the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town, it’s a big game. That’s true in all sports the Minnesota Gophers play in. Today at Williams Arena though, everything was magnified.

With the Gophers trying to avoid a .500 record in the middle of February and a dwindling schedule full of tournament teams on the horizon… today was a must-win.

Richard Pitino and Co. also hosted a handful of Minnesota’s top recruits… and we all know how badly he needs a commitment or two out of those…

The game was ugly early. Pitino matched Alihan Demir on Luka Garza and Garza feasted for the first few minutes, scoring all 8 points as the Hawkeyes grabbed an early 8-2 lead. Oturu switched onto him shortly after that, and his run was over.

From there, the Gophers were the better team but it wouldn’t be enough. Garza got into foul trouble in the first half too, which cause problems for Iowa throughout the rest of the contest.

The Gophers caught up to Iowa with about 5 minutes left in the 1st half, and held it until there was just seconds left in the game. Hell, if the Gophers could have hit anything from the outside, this game would have been of blowout fashion.

Of course, shooting is always a problem for Pitino’s teams though, even when he has a backcourt laced with 3-point shooters. Today, it wasn’t just a problem from the 3-pt line.

The Gophers shot 28% from 3-pt and 35.6% from the field. Those numbers are AT HOME in the BIGGEST GAME of the season. I just don’t understand how a team that was built for outside shooting, can be so inept at hitting outside shots.

If not for Marcus Carr and Daniel Oturu, the Gophers would suck. That was proven today because neither guy had a great game and they lost…

Oturu’s constant pressure offensively, on Garza, pushed him to the bench because of foul trouble, which was almost the biggest key to this game. He also hit big shots down low and from mid-range.

Carr is the dude that the Gophers needed last season. He wants the big shot and he thrives on big moments. He wasn’t enough today, though. Iowa held him to just 10 points but he still posted 8 rebounds and 6 assists to go with them.

Finally, Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis hit a couple 3-pointers late in the second half, that gave the Gophers a 55-47 lead with 5:25 left in the game. Those were the last points we’d score, though.

The Hawkeyes went on an 11-0 run to end the game. The refs tried to help with a questionable call that gave Oturu a chance to tie, with 3 seconds left, but he missed the first of a 1-and-1.

When you don’t score for 5 minutes and 25 seconds to close a game, it’s going to be difficult to win, especially when you shot under 36% for the contest.

Now, the Gophers sit at 12-12 and have the nation’s 2nd-most difficult schedule to finish the season. They have 6 games left and need to win 5 of 6… maybe even all 6, if they are going to be considered dancers before the Big Ten Tournament starts.

If the Gophers start shooting from an average clip for those games, I’d say they will get in.

But they won’t…. so they won’t.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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