Minnesota Holds Off Green Bay 72-56
Minnesota once again entered a non-conference matchup as the favorite, and held off Green Bay to win 72-56 heading into a week long break. Although the game was closer than many expected, as Minnesota actually trailed at halftime. After watching the game, these are three takeaways that I got, as well as a few key performers from each team.
Payton Willis Is A Floor General
We've seen Payton's proven scoring ability this season, but last night he also showed just how well he can run the show for this team. Willis dished out an impressive 10 assists, and did so in a variety of ways throughout the game. After pulling in a defensive rebound or getting the outlet pass after a teammate's rebound, he immediately had his head up and was looking to toss the ball ahead. That vision and awareness led to some open looks for his teammates hustling up the floor. It's not something that every guard does, but when you have a point guard that looks to pass it up the floor, it can lead to a few extra points each game. He also exceled at getting into the paint to draw in an extra defender before locating the open man on the perimeter. Not only did he facilitate at a high level, but he also scored 14 points on just 9 shots.
Struggles With Quick Guards Continue
Although they slowed him down in the second half, the quick 6' freshman Kamari McGee caused some problems for the bigger Minnesota guards. We saw early in the first half he was able to blow by them to get to the basket to score, which is one of the disadvantages of having a pair of 6'4 guards. In the second half I thought the Gophers adjusted well and forced him to shoot more from the perimeter where he wasn't as dangerous. It's obvious that Minnesota doesn't have elite quickness, to those smaller guards have a chance to hurt them, but if they are able to make adjustments like they did last night, they'll be in better shape moving forward.
Jamison Battle Is More Than A Shooter
Jamison even noted in a post-game interview that he came into college as a three point specialist. That's changed this year though, as he's been showing off a complete game for Minnesota. Early on he was getting to the basket continuously, including a tough euro-step in transition that sent a defender flying in the opposite direction. In the second half after taking some contact and not getting a foul call, he responded by slashing to the rim for a powerful dunk. He's also a lot quicker than he was when I watched him in high school, as he defender smaller perimeter players while still possessing the strength to defend in the paint. Battle continued to show his stroke from outside, as he knocked down 3-5 shots from deep on his way to 23 points.
Key Performers For Minnesota
Jamison Battle- 23 points, 6 rebounds
Payton Willis- 14 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
Eric Curry- 11 points, 10 rebounds
Key Players For Green Bay
Kamari McGee- 14 points, 3 assists
Donovan Ivory- 11 points, 4 rebounds
Cade Meyer- 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
What's Next For Minnesota?
The Gophers will have a week off before returning to Williams Arena to take on Alcorn State on Wednesday, December 29th at 7:00pm. The game will be aired on the BTN+ app. Alcorn State currently stands at 1-10 on the season, and is led by senior Troymain Crosby with 19.1 ppg.