After an encouraging victory at home over a legitimate Northwestern team, the Gophers went on the road to Ohio State in hopes of building on their glimmer of success. What we saw, though, was perhaps the worst performance of the year from Minnesota at a point in the season where you’d like to see quite the opposite.
Losing to Ohio State in Columbus is nothing to be ashamed about. The Buckeyes are 13-0 at home this season and are incredibly tough to go against when their fans get into the game. That being said, getting blown out by a team you’ve beaten already this year without appearing to give any defensive effort IS something to be ashamed of.
The distressing part of the game overall was the disappearance of the stingy, effective Gopher defense. Their calling card all season has been the ability to force teams into mistakes and take them out of their offensive comfort zone, holding opponents to 38% from the field this season. Ohio State shredded the Minnesota defense to the tune of 73% in the first half and shot 63% for the game. For an often offensively-illiterate team like the Gophers, shooting percentages like that cannot happen. Minnesota only grabbed four steals, forced 12 turnovers, swatted zero blocks and let Evan Turner have his way the entire game. For the first time all season, the Gophers looked like the inferior team. Things even got so bad that Bryant Allen saw his first minute of the season.
For all of the awfulness of the game, it’s important to put it in perspective. This was a road game against maybe the hottest team in the conference with a Player of the Year candidate at full strength and was far from a must- or should-win situation. Minnesota was expected to lose, just not necessarily expected to get murdered. Honestly, they are no worse off now than they were before the game in terms of postseason chances.
The team starts a crucial five-game stretch of winnable games that will make or break their postseason chances and will need rediscover their defensive cohesion in order to make a splash as the regular season winds down. The Gophers have too much else to worry about without having to wonder if their defense will show up.
- The Gophers shot uncharacteristically well (51%), but turned the ball over 17 times leading to 24 points for the Buckeyes. Turnovers don’t necessarily lose games, points given up off of turnovers do.
- Rodney Williams had 13 of Minnesota’s 20 bench points. Only Justin Cobbs (5) and Paul Carter (2) were able to register a point off the bench.
- Blake Hoffarber hit two more three-pointers, racked up 10 points and pulled in six rebounds.
- There was no clear-cut run that the Buckeyes put together to take a big lead; they simply dominated from start to finish.
- Minnesota is now only 1-5 away from Williams Arena, with the lone win at Iowa. After losing 9 of their last 10 conference road games, it’s becoming scary how awful the team is away from home.