Gophers men’s basketball seeks new scoring mind-set

Gophers men’s basketball seeks new scoring mind-set

Gophers senior guard Taurus Samuels heard cheers from the Williams Arena crowd as his jumper brought in 40 seconds from time in Thursday’s first half against Purdue — and stopped his team from scoring in double digits at halftime.

Yes, you read it right. The Gophers were less than a minute from a nine-point half, but 12 points down Samuel’s three-point game was still a nightmarishly poor start to one of the lowest-scoring games in team history.

Thursday night’s 61-39 loss to the 3-ranked Boilermakers produced the fewest points the Gophers have scored in a game since 1950-51. That was a 32-26 loss in Indiana. However, you must go further back to get the fewest Gophers points scored in a home loss. World War II was not over when the U fell to the Iowa Seahawks 49-30 on March 3, 1945 in the Barn.

“I need to figure out what I can do better to get us on offense and find more rhythm,” said coach Ben Johnson, who is hoping his team can bounce back in Michigan on Sunday.

The Gophers (7-10, 1-6 Big Ten) in Johnson’s first two seasons haven’t seen their offensive confidence drop any lower than they do now. Her 62.9 points per game is by far the lowest in the Big Ten and the worst since an average of 60.6 points in the season that ended Dan Monson’s 2006-07 tenure. They only managed 40 points in a game twice this season.

“We just couldn’t get into the rhythm offensively or build confidence,” said Johnson. “We weren’t able to have an open look at the case, which can sometimes happen. I think the disappointing thing is we just can’t let it affect your overall game.”

In the Big Ten, the Gophers rank 13th in field goal shooting (42.5%), 10th in three-point shooting (32.5%) and last in free throw shooting (59.3%) and revenue lead (minus- 1.88).

But it’s certainly going to be a bad night if you’re scoring goals as a team when your top three scorers are having their worst games combined. That happened Thursday when Dawson Garcia, Jamison Battle and Ta’Lon Cooper combined for just 11 points in 5-for-29 shooting. They averaged almost 40 points when they came into play.

“Sometimes shots just don’t come off,” Samuels said. “When that happens, we can’t let missed shots dictate how hard we play defensively or how we get good shots.”

Johnson was dealt a difficult hand with a combination of inexperience and injuries limiting the Gophers’ scoring chances.

Veteran strikers Isaiah Sie and Parker Fox, already down with season-ending injuries, played Thursday without newcomer Braeden Carrington, who will be out for three to four weeks with a leg injury.

Battle, who has averaged 13 points this season, went goalless in 0-on-9 shooting for the first time in his career on Thursday while dealing with an ongoing back injury. In the second half he only played four minutes.

In America’s first Big Ten win last week, Dawson Garcia tied his career-high 28 points at Ohio State, but he saw his eight-game streak of double-digit goals on Thursday with seven points (all in the second half). End 3v13 shooting vs. Purdue.

Shots missed for Battle and Garcia put pressure on Cooper to do more than score, but he finished with just four points in 2-for-7 shooting, ending his double-digit four-game streak.

The Gophers have four freshmen in the rotation this season, but they haven’t been able to develop much confidence on offense. So it was difficult to ask Pharrel Payne, Jaden Henley and Joshua Ola-Joseph to suddenly provide a point boost against the Big Ten’s top team.

However, Ola-Joseph, who has started in the last 10 games, has shown growth with consistent playing time. He led the Gophers on Thursday with 13 points, including 11 in the second half.

Purdue’s defense with 7-4 star Zach Edey down the middle and blocking four shots had a lot to do with the Gophers’ abysmal offensive performance, but ESPN analyst Jon Crispin had a suggestion to fix some of the issues.

“It has to be better ball movement,” Crispin said on television on Thursday. “There were short passes and easy close-outs. And really no lanes because the ball was condensed.”

difficult days

Fewest points in a game for the Gophers men’s basketball team since 1944

1946-47: 44-25L in Michigan

1950-51: 32-26L at Indiana

1944-45: 49-30L vs. Iowa Seahawks

1947-48: 54-35L in California

1948-49: 35-28 W vs. Indiana

2022-23: 61-39L v Purdue

1948-49: 48-39 L in Ohio State

1949-50: 55-39 liters at Purdue

1971-72: 55-40L at Marquette

2006-07: 49-40 L to the northwest

2006-07: 55-40 L vs. Michigan (Big Ten Tournament)

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