Barring a meeting in the Big Ten Tournament or otherwise in the postseason, Saturday afternoon marked the last time Minnesota senior forward Jordan Murphy played against IU.
That fact is one of the few positives IU can take from an 84-63 road loss to Minnesota, the Hoosiers’ 10th loss in 11 games.
Murphy finished the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and spent his 30 minutes on the court bullying IU’s interior defenders. It was the 18th double-double of the season for Murphy, who will likely finish his college career averaging 14 points and almost 10 rebounds over the course of six games played against IU.
Whether he was guarded by junior forward De’Ron Davis, senior forward Juwan Morgan, sophomore forward Justin Smith or redshirt senior forward Evan Fitzner, Murphy had his way against the Hoosiers.
His strong showing in and around the rim didn’t take IU Head Coach Archie Miller by surprise.
During his Friday media availability, Miller praised Murphy for his physicality, a trait Miller saw up close Saturday.
“His jumping, his strength, his lower center of gravity, really commands a lot of attention,” Miller said.
With Murphy having success by finishing through contact, out-jumping Hoosiers for rebounds and using his 6-foot-6-inch frame to gain position near the basket, it allowed Minnesota to space the court well and have a good performance shooting 3-pointers.
Minnesota made a season-high 12 3-pointers, including six from freshman guard Gabe Kalscheur. But the genesis for Minnesota’s hot shooting performance from behind the arc, which helped the Golden Gophers have a lead as large as 30 points, was Murphy.
The inside-out offensive style used by Minnesota, in part because of the absence of reliable outside shooters, worked perfectly.
Murphy’s usage percentage, the percentage of team plays used by a player, was above 30 percent, meaning he was the most involved Golden Gopher on offense. His frequent touches of the ball in the post contributed to effective passing from the Golden Gophers as well, as the home team had a 19-8 advantage in assists compared to IU.
In fact, across the statistical board Murphy proved to be the best player in Saturday’s game, as he led all players in efficiency rating and points per minute.
Miller and the Hoosiers will be happy to no longer face the talented senior, but Murphy’s contributions toward the blowout Minnesota win likely shelved IU’s thoughts about the NCAA Tournament.
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