March 2, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Ohio State (home)

Ohio State - 57
Minnesota -71

Through 28 games things have gone as they should for every game with the exception of two. Home to Illinois is a game where the Gophers sat higher in the standings/RPI than their opponent and lost. Home to Ohio State is a game where the Gophers looked up in the standings/RPI to their opponent and won.

While this isn't the statement win that beating Michigan State or Indiana would have been, it is better than losing! The loss drops Ohio State outside of the RPI top 50 so we still don't have a win over a team in the top 50 but lets not get too caught up in the ESPN generated RPI hype. This was a solid win and puts the Gophers in position to finish 5th in the Big Ten. Raise your hand if you thought we could finish 5th after last year's three win conference season.

In the season's first matchup the Buckeye zone was active and proved difficult to crack. But for the rematch adjustments were made and for the first time in a couple weeks we were the more aggressive team on the floor. On a side note Ohio State looks lifeless and just playing out the season. But on Senior Day McKenzie led the Gophers in points and passion as they dominated the second half.

High praise from Ohio State coach, Thad Motta...

“Those guys were making the plays we were unable to make and we just didn’t have the toughness to get the stops, get the rebounds. I thought defensively in the first half we played about as well as we could play, with the exception of rebounding the ball; they had nine offensive rebounds in the first half and that's too many."
Good game, good win and it was fun to see them beat the Buckeyes.

Player of the Game - Lawrence McKenzie

20 points
4 assists
3 rebounds
3 threes made

After an ugly first half with zero points and more than his share of turnovers, McKenzie proved to be the best player on the floor scoring all 20 points in the first half and actually LEADING the Gophers to a win.

It isn't a secret that McKenzie is very talented, but taking over a game and leading his team to a win has been missing in his game all season. With the end of his college career looming maybe Lawrence will continue to be they we look to for leadership and production when needed.

Tempo Free Zone -

A recent trend for these Gophers has been their rebounding. For the third game in a row we have rebounded pretty well. Grabbing 71.8% of Ohio State's misses is impressive and very out of character for us.

The more disturbing recent trend has been turnovers. For much of the season we were very good at creating turnovers but recently turning the ball over ourselves has been a problem. It will be interesting to keep an eye on turnovers for Wednesday's game @Indiana. When the Hoosiers came to the Barn we created 26 turnovers.

Up Next - @ Indiana

Bubble talk is still crazy, but watch it heat up if we can pull out a win in Bloomington. That would gives us a statement win and show that we are playing our best ball in March.

The Hoosiers play @Michigan State this afternoon and only have two days to prepare/rest for the Gophers. Indiana has won both games under new interim coach Dan Dakich but they have been less than impressive beating Northwestern and Ohio State by three. A win is a win , there is a chance that the emotional hangover from the Sampson firing will linger long enough for the Gophers to steal WON in Bloomington.


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