Gophers, Jamison Battle hope his game versus Indiana was breakthrough – InForum

Gophers, Jamison Battle hope his game versus Indiana was breakthrough – InForum

MINNEAPOLIS — Gopher’s wing Jamison Battle was a preseason pick for all of the Big Ten, but the first half of this year was, well, a struggle.

The fourth-year player showed his strengths last season, averaging 17.5 points per game as team-leader, but foot surgery in late October cost him the first four games of this year and he is currently averaging 12.6 points in 15 games. But Battle seemed to have his swagger back with a team-high 20 points in Wednesday’s 61-57 loss to Indiana.

Battle has surpassed 20 points three times this season but was also limited to single digits four other times, including zero points against Purdue after tweaking his back in an eight-point game against Illinois in mid-January. He said this season has been an internal struggle.

“I try to be who I am. I think that’s something I’ve shied away from this year — maybe trying to push the issue and trying to do something I’m not really comfortable with,” Battle said.

With Dawson Garcia becoming the team’s top scorer, Battle was called upon to do other things offensively. Head coach Ben Johnson reiterated that Battle didn’t want to miss a shot after his foot surgery and that it wasn’t realistic.

“It takes time and you combine that with him playing a new position, so that was new for him in terms of in-game experience,” Johnson said. “I think that was because he was just free on those days and you get out of a rhythm and patient with yourself to come back.”

Battle’s shooting rates have dropped. His field goals increased to 35.8% from 45% a year ago; his 3-pointers slipped from 36.6% to 30.6%; and its 2-pointers are down the most from 53.4% ​​to 42.2%. His free throw attempts per game have also increased from 2.7 to 0.9.

But against the Hoosiers, Battle shot 50% from the field, 44% from 3-point range, and 57% from the arc.

“I felt comfortable out there and I think my teammates certainly helped me with that,” Battle said. “They often put me in the right positions and find me in the right positions, so I can’t thank them enough for getting me back to where I need to be.”

Battle played Indiana every 40 minutes and was Minnesota’s regular all night. But on a late timeout, Battle suggested he be used as bait for the next offensive set.

“That’s just maturity,” Johnson said. “This is a guy who wants to win and I’m really proud that he’s once again stuck to the game plan. It’s funny, if you do that, you’ll succeed. He played loose and free and he really guarded.”

Battle, who added two blocks against Indiana, wanted a team win, not the chance for personal glory of ending up being a hero.

“I don’t care,” he said.

Garcia (foot) and Pharrel Payne (concussion) both missed the Indiana loss, but both big men have made progress. Their status will be crucial at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Northwest.

“Both guys were good,” Johnson said. “They both got some work on the pitch. Pharrel has a few more things to go through for the record to see if he can be released and we’ll see how Dawson feels (Saturday).

If Garcia and Payne can’t play, Minnesota (7-12, 1-8 Big Ten) stays on seven grantees for a second straight game.


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