The Indiana Basketball squad is on the road again Wednesday, this time taking on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Williams Arena.
Indiana basketball is coming off of a brutal road loss Saturday versus Michigan, losing 89-65 and there were very few positive takeaways from the performance aside from the solid offensive play from De’Ron Davis (18 points).
Wednesday will mark the first of two meetings Indiana will have against Minnesota in this final stretch of the season. The Golden Gophers come into the game with an even 12-12 record, and a 6-8 record in Big Ten play.
Minnesota is led by a trio of sophomores. Daniel Oturu is their main workhorse, however, and one of the best talents in the Big Ten. The 6-foot-10 center is averaging an impressive 19.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, with 13 double-doubles.
He is joined by Marcus Carr, a 6-foot-2 do-it-all guard, and transfer from Pittsburgh, currently averaging 15.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. Despite putting up some impressive numbers, Carr struggles to score efficiently and is only shooting 37 percent from the floor on the season.
The third man of the trio is sharpshooter Gabe Kalscheur (11.7 ppg), whom Indiana fans may remember from last season’s embarrassing loss at Minnesota. Kalscheur smoked the Hoosiers in that game, hitting six threes en route to a 20-point performance. While his three-point percentage has dropped from 41 percent last year to 33.5 percent this year, his shooting ability cannot be discounted.
Indiana has the chance to redeem themselves after playing quite possibly its worst game in Archie Miller’s three-year tenure last season at Minnesota. The Hoosiers lost that game 84-63 and were outmatched in every facet of the game, especially effort. This trip will allow for them to erase the stink of that game for good.
The Golden Gophers aren’t in the NCAA Tournament now, and likely won’t after the loss to Iowa over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play. They’re very good on interior defense and are second in the Big Ten in opponent two-point field goal percentage and third in blocked shots. Their problems lie on offense, where they rank dead last in the Big Ten in both field goal percentage (41.8) and three-point percentage (31.9).
Can the Hoosiers remedy their road woes? With their sole road win of the season coming early on at Nebraska, Indiana has a good chance to add to that total against a Minnesota team that really struggles to put the ball in the basket. The problem? Indiana struggles with the same thing. The frontcourts stack up pretty evenly size-wise between these two teams, so guard play for Indiana will be huge. I think whichever team has better guard play will win this game.
Can Minnesota hold Indiana to under 70 points? Minnesota is 5-3 in Big Ten games when they hold their opponents below 70 points, and 1-5 when they do not. The fact that Minnesota is so stifling on the interior is bad news for Indiana, who struggles to play from the outside. However, Al Durham had a nice game shooting against Michigan and Devonte Green was lights out versus Iowa, so it’s not impossible they repeat those performances. It will be imperative for Minnesota to not allow those two to get going.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (13.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Justin Smith (11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Devonte Green (10.6 ppg)
Daniel Oturu (19.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg), Marcus Carr (15.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.7 apg), Gabe Kalscheur (11.7 ppg)