TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jordan Murphy took one look at 7-foot-1, 300-pound Michael Ojo and he passed up the chance to drive to the rim for a dunk.
Reggie Lynch backed down his defender and tried to muscle in for a layup, but 6-11 Jonathan Isaac sent his shot right back at him. Lynch tried again and again, even trying to slam on 7-4 Christ Koumadje at one point -- but couldn't finish it.
The Gophers’ upgraded frontcourt was a major factor during a 6-0 start this year. But it had no answer for Florida State’s massive frontline in a 75-67 loss Monday night at Tucker Center.
“They’re big,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “They’re really, really big. What they do is, because they deny you so much, they force you to make plays at the rim. Where we made mistakes was we did it on the first drive. We need to drive and kick, then do it on the first and second paint touch. But they’re length definitely bothered our bigs.”
Minnesota was outscored 40-18 in points in the paint Monday.
Murphy scored just five points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field in 24 minutes. It was only the second time in his career he finished without a field goal and the first since the third game of his freshman season last year.
Coming off an ankle injury, Lynch wasn’t as aggressive as he had been in previous games until the second half. He was scoreless until making two free throws with 3:41 left in the game. He had six straight points, including a dunk during a 15-3 run. The Gophers cut a 19-point deficit to six with under 30 seconds left, but the comeback was too late.
Freshman Eric Curry led the Gophers with eight rebounds, but he mostly avoided shooting near the basket. He had just five points on 1-for-3 shooting in 25 minutes.
The most effective post player in the game was Bakary Konate, who had seven points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes. He shot 5-for-7 from the foul line.
Murphy, Lynch and Curry had two fouls in the first half, so Pitino went to his bench.
“Every day I work hard just ready for my opportunity,” Konate said. “Today was one of them. I knew I could give it my all for the team. I tried my best, but we couldn’t get the win.”
Florida State is the second tallest team in the nation in average height (79.3 inches), according to kenpom.com. But it definitely has the largest frontcourt.
The Big Ten’s tallest player is Purdue’s 7-2 Isaac Haas. But you don’t see many teams with multiple players 7-feet or taller.
Lynch and company will face another 7-footer on Saturday when Vanderbilt and Luke Kornet play the Gophers in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Free throw problems: The Gophers shot just 22-for-36 from the foul line Monday against the Seminoles, including 7-for-16 in the second half. Minnesota’s worst free throw shooter Murphy (48 percent) actually wasn’t the problem. He finished 5-for-6 on free throws. Surprisingly, guard Nate Mason was just 2-for-6 after entering the game shooting 84 percent.
In the last two games, the Gophers are 34-for-58 (58.6 percent) from the line. That’s not a good sign. Pitino already has his guys working on it extra each day. Maybe putting too much emphasis on it is backfiring mentally.
Coffey’s streak ends: Freshman Amir Coffey’s double figure scoring streak to start his career ended at six games after he was held to just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. He played a season-low 18 minutes after getting into foul trouble.