As the Gophers await the status of key starters who are injured or suspended, the team continues to drop Big Ten games.
With no experienced centers to take Reggie Lynch's place, along with an injured Amir Coffey, Maryland (15-6, 4-4 Big Ten) dominated the paint to beat Minnesota 77-66 at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. Thursday.
“They did a good job of converting turnovers into points,” Gophers' forward Jordan Murphy told reporters. “To their credit they hit a lot of shots and some timely threes. We have to keep believing, keep working.”
The Terrapins shot 56 percent in the game — and 86 percent through the first eight minutes — to seal the victory. The score was close at 29-28 at halftime, due to a 7-0 Gophers run right before the half ended.
Maryland center Michal Cekovsky, who the Gophers (14-7, 3-5 Big Ten) seemed to not have an answer for, scored 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
The Gophers shot 36 percent in the loss, much different from last week's shooting at Penn State where the Gophers sank 53 percent of their shots.
"We just weren't making shots," head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. "Very, very difficult to win right now."
Minnesota was led by Murphy, who scored 19 points and 14 rebounds. Murphy earned his 19th double-double of the year in the loss at Maryland.
Guard Nate Mason, who played all 45 minutes in the last overtime game at Penn State, played all 40 minutes on Thursday night. He scored 14 points on 5-16 shooting versus Maryland.
“We are making [Mason] do a lot,” Pitino told reporters. “It is the situation we are in right now.”
Bakary Konaté started the game at center, but Davonte Fitzgerald ended the night with more minutes. Fitzgerald shot 3-5 from the field with 10 points on 23 minutes. Konaté ended with 2 points and four personal fouls.
“We’re just trying to weather that storm and get better," Fitzgerald told reporters. "We’ve got to take these games and take these reps as a good learning moment for us.”
The Gophers will head to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on Saturday for the Big Ten's Super Saturday event, where the Gophers' men's hockey team will be playing Michigan State and Minnesota's men's basketball team takes on No. 22 Ohio State (16-4, 6-0 Big Ten).
"The Big Ten is not doing us any favors," Pitino told reporters. "Lose a home game there. It's not fair, but oh well."