Another exhibition game and another decisive victory for the revamped Gophers. The Gophers made quick work of Concordia-St. Paul in their second of two exhibition games, dispatching the Golden Bears 101-67 for their second consecutive exhibition victory to begin the season. It was the first time the Gophers scored 100 points in a game since an exhibition win over Northeastern State in 2010.
Richard Pitino used his entire lineup, giving us a good look at many of the players and once again Drizzy Mathieu showed us how fun it is to have a real point guard. Mathieu racked up 12 points and 7 assists in 23 minutes while grabbing four steals and flying all over the court. Seriously, the dude is FAST. Mo Walker was equally impressive, leading all scorers with 17 points on 8-12 shooting and pulling down 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. A double-double for Walker? Who would have thought? And he looked good doing it, flashing some improved ups and looking much more agile on the court with his reduced weight.
Oto Osenieks rebounded nicely from a poor showing against Cardinal-Stritch, putting up 10 points and 6 boards while swatting two blocks in only 14 minutes. In a game that Osenieks desperately needed to show some ability, he may have bought himself some time to show he belongs in a fluid frontcourt situation. Elliott Eliason ran into early foul trouble and only played 12 minutes, which gave Osenieks some increased minutes.
Newcomers Joey King and Malik Smith also got extended looks in the game, putting up 8 and 9 points, respectively. King once again showed his versatility, though he only shot 1-5 from beyond the arc. Smith lived behind the three-point line, shooting 2-5 from deep.
Curiously, Charles Buggs received minimal playing time for the second straight game and only attempted a single three-pointer in 3 minutes. If the first two games are any indication then Buggs is way behind in the battle for minutes down low.
The Gophers open up the regular season Friday against Lehigh in a game that actually counts. They’ve flashed some interesting offensive weapons and have pushed the tempo on defense so it will be fun to see how they come out in a game that actually matters. It seems clear that the starting lineup will at least feature Mathieu, Hollins, Hollins and Eliason. But the fifth player is less clear cut. My guess is either Joey King or Oto Osenieks, with a slight edge to King. We’ll see.