Following the Minnesota Gophers’ loss to Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve, coach Richard Pitino criticized his team’s ball movement and over-reliance on Marcus Carr to create offense.
Just four days since that loss, the team appears to have gotten the message. No. 21 Minnesota got contributions up and down the lineup, including from Carr, as it took down No. 25 Ohio State 77-60 on Sunday at Williams Arena. Minnesota is now 10-0 at home this season.
Standing at 7 feet, Drake transfer Liam Robbins was the catalyst for the Gophers’ offense that saw five players score in double figures. Robbins towered over Ohio State’s smaller frontcourt all night, asserting his dominance early and often. He scored the game’s first five points and ended the first half with 16. He finished with a game-high 27 points to go along with 14 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. It marks his first double-double as a Gopher.
Minnesota trailed for all of 18 seconds against the Buckeyes, playing solid on both ends. After shooting just 31% against the Badgers, the Gophers shot 44% from the field and 41% beyond the arc against Ohio State.
They also upped their intensity and cleaned up the mistakes on defense, holding the Buckeyes to 31 percent shooting. In the second half of the Wisconsin loss, Minnesota allowed the Badgers to shoot 65 percent.
Minnesota led by seven at the half before completely stifling the Buckeyes, holding them to 23 second-half points.
Carr, who has averaged 22.7 points per game this season, scored 15. After scoring 30 points in back-to-back games against Iowa and Saint Louis, the redshirt junior has cooled off slightly. Sunday was his third consecutive game scoring under 20 points, his longest such drought this season.
Gabe Kalscheur put together his second strong performance, knocking down three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points.
Freshman Jamal Mashburn and Utah transfer Both Gach rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points each. Gach’s performance is a welcome sign for the Gophers after he struggled out of the gate in Big Ten play and appeared to lack confidence.
Minnesota heads to Ann Arbor next to play No. 16 Michigan. It’s the first of two games against the Wolverines in the next two weeks.
Freshman to transfer
Gophers freshman guard David Mutaf intends to transfer from the program, the team said Sunday.
Mutaf, a 6-5 native of Istanbul, was used sparingly by Minnesota this season. He appeared in three games and averaged 3.3 points per game. He shot 4 of 7 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Mutaf was the final addition to Pitino’s 2019-2020 recruiting class that included Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Martice Mitchell.
Mutaf is the second loss for the Gophers this season. Jarvis Omersa opted out of the season due to COVID concerns on Dec. 20.