The Gophers began a big weekend for the University of Minnesota by falling to the DePaul Blue Demons 73-68. Undefeated DePaul led for 37:35 of the night and shot 50% from downtown to move to 8-0, while the Gophers dropped back under .500 at 3-4.
Daniel Oturu led the team with 19 points and 18 rebounds, posting a double-double before halftime, while Gabe Kalscheur, Alihan Demir, and Payton Willis all scored in double figures to keep the game within reach.
“Every time we got a little bit close, they made a run,” head coach Richard Pitino said.
Among the reasons they lost:
Self-inflicted errors. Minnesota went on a second-half run to cut it to 51-50, but DePaul immediately answered with an and-one, and Oturu then dribbled the ball out of bounds on the other end. Kalscheur fouled DePaul on a three for a four-point play, and shortly thereafter Marcus Carr threw the ball way for a turnover.
With 1:01 left, down 71-66, Payton Willis missed a fast-break layup, and after a defensive stop on the other end, DePaul snagged an offensive rebound with 32 seconds left. After the Blue Demons missed a one-and-one with 13 seconds to go in a 71-68 game, Oturu lost the rebound out of bounds.
In total, DePaul scored 17 points off turnovers and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds.
"They killed us on the offensive rebounds," Willis said after the game.
Missed shots. It’s tough win against good teams if your shots don’t fall. The Gophers missed 11 of their final 13 shots, including their last five, failing to make a field goal over the final six minutes and 34 seconds of the game.
They shot just 9-of-28 (32%) and 2-of-13 from long range (15%) in the second half, punctuating a game of just 34% from the field and 24% from three, including 7-of-29 from downtown. Perhaps most importantly, they were just 19-of-30 at the line, missing the front end of three one-and-ones. DePaul shot 8-of-16 from distance and 13-of-20 from the line.
Guard play. Carr, Willis, and Kalscheur combined to go 11-of-39, including 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. Carr, scoreless in the first half, finished with just 4 points and 4 assists, though he did make a number of good passes leading to open shots that weren’t hit. Kalscheur shot just 3-of-13 from the field. Willis went down down early in the second half, slapping the floor in pain, and Pitino noted after the game his ankle hobbled him, especially on the missed layup.
But it wasn’t all bad
Battling. The Gophers cut an 11-point second-half deficit to one or two a number of times. Down three with just 10 seconds left and DePaul inbounding, BJ Greenlee stole the inbounds pass to give the Gophers a chance. All five starters played at least 30 minutes and Willis, playing on a bad ankle, and Oturu, who looked exhausted at times, played hard until the final whistle.
Free throws. Getting to the line 30 times is a good sign, regardless of how many were missed (11). Oturu (14) and Demir (10) got there 24 times combined, excellent production from the big men. In the second half, Minnesota shot a a more respectable 15-of-22 at the stripe.
Balanced scoring attack. On an afternoon Oturu was getting double teamed nearly every time he touched the ball below the free-throw line, the rest of the Gopher starters picked up the slack, scoring a combined 45 points. Demir had his best offensive game as a Gopher, finishing with 14 points and 6 rebounds on 50% shooting.
Next up for the Gophers is the ACC-Big Ten challenge. Minnesota welcomes Clemson to the Barn on Monday.