Michigan Wrap-Up; Purdue Pregame (1/5/14) Thoughts

Michigan Wrap-Up; Purdue Pregame (1/5/14) Thoughts 
January 4, 2014

Michigan Wrap-Up

  • We liked the distribution of minutes for the Gophers.
  • This coin-flip game had 9 ties and 10 lead changes. Minnesota went 5 minutes and 25 second FG drought starting with 5:53 to play spelled doom.
  • Relative to the RPI, a home loss is tougher on Minnesota than a road win would be helpful. Nonetheless, Michigan is a quality team that we expect to dance in March so no reason to get overly-down over a loss to the Wolverines. Plenty of time to get wins, although now things would get a bit uncomfortable should the Gophers fall to Purdue on Sunday.

  • In the pregame we talked about how the absence of McGary was overdone by some. Jordan Morgan played only 9 minutes after getting into early foul trouble, but Jon Horford stepped in for 30 minutes, scoring 14 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. 
  • In the pregame we said “…freshman Zak Irvin is an X-factor. Yet another skilled guy around 6’6″, Irvin is a great scorer who has launched the majority of his attempts from 3-point range this season.” With Glenn Robinson injured after playing 20 minutes, Irvin played 27 minutes. The frosh went 5/8 from 3-point range to lead all scorers with 15. 
  • The Gophers must continue to rely on Austin Hollins and Dre Hollins. Their combined shooting of 4/19 (1/11 3FG) was off and on nights like that Minnesota will struggle to win. 
  • Overall this game statistically looked much like the past couple of years: Minnesota dominated the offensive boards (44% to 18% OR%), but turned the ball over a lot (25% TO rate) and were out-shot (53% to 44% eFG).

Purdue at Minnesota | Sunday, January 5, 2014 | 1:30pm CT (TV: BTN)

  • Minnesota is a better team than Purdue and should win.
  • As we talked about in our preseason preview of Purdue, the build-up of AJ Hammons nationally had been overdone. He’s an old sophomore (turned 21 in August) and while he’s capable of great games (such as his performance against Ohio State in a losing effort – 18p, 16r, 5b, 4a), we didn’t believe he’d take a big step forward this season and so far, he hasn’t.
  • Hammons turnover struggles have muted his improvements in FG% and drawing fouls this year, but he continues to be excellent on the boards and blocking shots. Frequent Fouler Club members Joey King and Maurice Walker along with Elliott Eliason (who has lowered his fouling from past years) could each rack up fouls in a hurry when AJ is on the court.
  • By the way, Hammons effort against Ohio State marked the first time since 2000 that a Big Ten player put up 18+p, 15+r, 5+b and 4+a in a game. The last conference player to do so was Gopher Joel Przybilla (28/18/7/5 against Iowa).
  • Both rosters play a number of new faces this season, but Minnesota is far older with who they start. The Gophers will start five upper classmen while Purdue will likely open the game with only one (senior Terone Johnson).
  • This year, Terone Johnson’s eFG% is the best of his career at a solid 51.6% while playing alongside brother Ronnie Johnson (sophomore guard; 44.4% eFG%, 27% assist rate, only 16% turnover rate). Combined they’re shooting 38% 3FG (only a combined 25 makes), but their shooting isn’t as big of a concern as their ability to get to the line.
  • Purdue has a ton of players who are capable of having good games and they’ll put a lot of different bodies on the court. Among them a couple to watch are 6’6” freshman Kendall Stephens who is a 3-point threat and fellow frosh Bryson Scott. At 6’1” Scott isn’t a great shooter, but he’s got a motor and competes on both ends of the floor. Minnesota has to be very careful with Scott – he can get to the line a lot and take the ball away from Gopher guards.
  • This season against teams ranked inside the top 120 of KenPom ratings Purdue is just 1-4. Their lone win came on December 22 at West Virginia (73-70; the Mountaineers were just 3/18 3FG).
  • For Minnesota: Don’t let Purdue own the offensive boards; force them to make shots if they are going to beat you – don’t let them do it on the charity stripe, rely on your stars (Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins).
  • A loss to Michigan isn’t a big deal. Minnesota lost to a very good team in a coin-flip game. Losing to Purdue at home to start the season 0-2 would be troublesome, but the Gophers should be able to handle them.
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