Saturday, December 5, 2009

Back to Normalcy for Gopher Hoops

After losing three consecutive non-conference games in a week's time, the Gopher basketball team returned home Saturday afternoon to throttle the Brown University Bears 91-55. All five Minnesota starters (Blake Hoffarber, Damian Johnson, Lawrence Westbrook, Ralph Sampson III, and Al Nolen) reached double figures in the game, and Devoe Joseph had 11 points off the bench, in the balanced scoring attack.

Suspended senior forward Devron Bostick made his first appearance for the team, but did not score for Minnesota. The Gophers did not need his scoring ability, however, as the rest of the roster notched at least two points in this game. The Gophers shot 54% from the floor for the game and held Brown to just 33%. Minnesota also limited its mistakes in this one, turning the ball over just seven times and creating 14 turnovers the other way. The Gophers also blocked ten shots and forced nine steals.

A fast start was key to the Minnesota victory. By the twelve-minute mark of the first half, the Gophers were shooting 63% from the field, including 3-4 from three-point territory, to open up a 28-8 lead. At the same point of the game, Brown was shooting 2-14 from the floor, and both field goals were three-point baskets, which was a testament to the Gophers' tough defense early on. Minnesota kept the pressure on throughout and skated away with the victory.

The Gophers improved to 5-3 on the season and will face Morgan State at the Barn next Tuesday night. St. Joseph's, Northern Illinois, and South Dakota State are the remaining non-conference games - all at home - so the opportunity to rack up four additional victories leading into the Big Ten opener is available. However, with the three consecutive losses to Portland, Texas A&M, and Miami last week, the opportunity for "signature" non-conference victories to pad the Gophers' NCAA Tournament resume was lost.

Still, it's too early to panic, and the Gophers proved that Saturday afternoon. This team will take care of business the rest of the way and should definitely be in the hunt for a Big Ten title.

No comments:

Post a Comment