The Gophers men’s basketball team is finding out the hard way that things are a bit tougher in the Big Ten. Minnesota lost Saturday’s game at No. 12 Maryland by a 70-58 final and is now 0-2 to start conference play after also losing to Purdue on the road.
Minnesota fell behind big early in College Park but rallied to make things interesting. A sluggish second half, though, resulted in the Gophers dropping their second straight road game. Only two players scored in double-figures for Minnesota, which struggled from the floor in the 12-point loss.
1 big moment: The first half was a series of runs — a 17-2 run by Maryland to take a big lead, and a 13-0 run by Minnesota to answer. After Gophers forward Joey King hit a 3-pointer at the end of the half, Minnesota trailed by just three, 36-33, as it headed to the locker room.
Though there wasn’t necessarily one big moment in the second half that turned the tide for Maryland, the Terps had another run out of the gates after halftime that gave them a comfortable cushion for the remainder of the game. Maryland freshman Melo Trimble had six early points in the second half, and a pair of free throws by Richaud Pack turned what was a three-point Terps lead into a 12-point advantage. Minnesota never got closer than seven points the rest of the way thanks to the double-digit lead Maryland built early in the second half.
2 top performers: Minnesota senior center Mo Walker has continued to assert himself as a force in the post. Walker had 12 first-half points and was crucial during a 13-0 Minnesota run that helped cut the Maryland lead to two points. While other Gophers struggled to score Saturday, Walker finished with a double-double as he scored 20 points and added a team-high 10 rebounds. Walker also chipped in three blocks and a pair of steals in one of his better games of his senior season thus far.
On the other end, Maryland’s Trimble was sensational in the Terrapins’ victory. He finished with a team-high 20 points — including 9 of 13 from the free-throw line — and chipped in six rebounds as his impressive freshman campaign continued in Saturday’s win.
3 key stats: The Gophers came into Saturday’s game with one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the Big Ten (1.5), but Minnesota had an uncharacteristic game in that department against Maryland. Richard Pitino’s team finished with just five assists and turned the ball over 12 times. That is certainly not a recipe for success.
Minnesota senior guard Andre Hollins finished with just two points. He entered the game as the Gophers’ leading scorer (13.2 ppg) but was just 1 of 9 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. Hollins has been dealing with turf toe during the season, but Saturday’s game was an especially tough one for him on the stat sheet.
Rebounding has been a problem for Minnesota early in the season, and it certainly was against Maryland. The Gophers were outrebounded 45-36 by the Terps, who grabbed 12 offensive rebounds.
Seen: Though Carlos Morris scored 18 points for Minnesota, he needed to take 21 shots in order to reach that mark. He was only 7 of 21 from the floor and 2 for 10 from downtown. He and Walker were the only two Gophers with more than five points.
Minnesota didn’t utilize the bench a ton Saturday, as only three reserves played. One of those, center Elliott Eliason, saw only eight minutes of action. Meanwhile, three Gophers (DeAndre Mathieu, Morris and Walker) played 32 or more minutes, and Andre Hollins played 29.
Next: The Gophers return home after playing their first two Big Ten games on the road. Minnesota hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes on Jan. 6 at Williams Arena. OSU dropped its first Big Ten game of the season in a home loss to Iowa. The Buckeyes’ only other losses of the season were against Top 25 teams — Louisville and North Carolina. Minnesota goes back on the road after the Ohio State game as the Gophers play at Michigan later next week.