Men’s basketball: Gophers’ woes continues in 88-70 loss at Maryland
The Gophers (7-19, 1-15) actually led against the Terps (19-9, 10-7), going on a 7-0 run to lead 13-8 after five minutes. But Maryland then went on a 25-4 run.
If the University of Minnesota men’s basketball season can be distilled to one granular play in a rising sea of disappointment, it might have happened in the second half against Maryland on Wednesday.
Minnesota attempted to inbound the ball after a made basket, but Terrapins guard Donald Carey slapped down the casual pass. It went off Ta’Lon Cooper’s foot and out of bounds.
Minnesota turnover; Maryland ball. Ugh.
Even minuscule things are a grind for the Gophers.
Minnesota’s losing skid reached 11 games with an 88-70 loss to Maryland at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.
The Terrapins handed the Gophers their worst-ever home Big Ten loss, a 35-point drubbing, 81-46 on Feb. 4. This one wasn’t that bad.
Minnesota’s turnovers, such as that ill-fated inbound pass, contributed to their undoing, but the biggest source was allowing the Terrapins to shoot over 68% from their field. They were making over 75% for most of the game.
“They got what they wanted, whether that was at the rim (or) at three, and obviously they are way too good of a team to defend like we did,” Gophers coach Ben Johnson said on the KFXN-FM postgame show. “… They were in a comfort zone. We didn’t have much of a presence, and you got to be able to force guys to miss and create your own luck. We were just not able to do that in any capacity.”
The Gophers (7-19, 1-15) never led against the Terps (19-9, 10-7) in their matchup three weeks ago, but on Wednesday, Minnesota went on a 7-0 run to lead 13-8 after five minutes. The lead had dissolved to 20-20 when Maryland went on a 25-4 run to open up a 45-24 margin.
“I thought the first 10 minutes were pretty good,” Johnson said on the radio. “And then we just hit a wall and did not respond.”
The Terrapins had their best shooting half of the season, cruising along with 73 percent shooting from the field in the first half. They were able to get into the paint with ease, scoring 26 points in the first half and 40 for the game.
Coming off a season-high 31 points at Illinois on Monday, Gophers forward Jamison Battle was scoreless and inexcusably had only two shot attempts while playing all 20 minutes in the first half.
This has been a theme; Battle didn’t have a shot in the first five minutes on Monday. Minnesota must find ways to get their best shooters good looks.
Battle finished Wednesday with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.
Freshman guard Jaden Henley possibly had his best half of the season. He had two strong drives to the basket early in the game and hit two 3-pointers later in the half. He had 10 at the break and 14 in the game.
Fellow freshman Pharrel Payne led Minnesota with 17 points, but the big man fouled out with five minutes left.
Johnson was not willing to look for the few bright spots immediately following the latest loss. “I think in a game where you defend (like that), there are not many small victories,” he said. “We got to really home in on what we are doing defensively.”
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