This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Why have the Gophers been so much better after halftime (and so much worse before)?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: January 17, 2013 - 10:58 AM

If you pool together the Gophers’ games vs. Michigan State, Northwestern and Indiana, Minnesota is being outshot by opponents by 3.3 percentage points in the first half.

Look at the second half, however, and that better explains how the Gophers’ have managed a 3-1 record in the league so far. Because after halftime, Minnesota is out-shooting their opponents by 11.6 percentage points – an average of 49.5 percent compared with opponents’ 37.9.

Put another way, the Gophers have finished particularly well … and started much, much slower.

Against Indiana, Minnesota’s slow start ultimately cost them a game they miraculously pulled back into enough to get another shot at the end. But make no mistake, the Gophers would not have been in that situation had they started stronger in the first half.

So what gives? Why is it that the Gophers have been so much better after the break?

“Most games, unless you’re just so much more superior than someone, it’s usually the adjustments you make at halftime – or your opponents’ adjustments – are going to have something to do with what occurs,” coach Tubby Smith said.

Certainly that’s true to a good extent – the Gophers have been excellent at adjusting from one half to another. And that’s significant because those adjustments have won them two of the three games I mentioned (I didn’t include the Illinois game in the above stats simply because the slow start wasn’t an issue against the Illini – the Gophers out-did Illinois the entire game, meaning the Illini were clearly NOT able to adjust).

But when the Gophers start out sluggishly on both ends, it can compound the issue, as it did on Saturday, when the Hoosiers shot 65.6 percent in the first. The problem, indeed, has not been necessarily that the Gophers have started out slowly on offense – there is only a minor difference in their average shooting between halves, from 48.6 percent in the first to 49.5 percent in the second – but that their ability to limit opponents on defense compared to their own production.

One of the issues might be that the Gophers often go through a really poor stretch in the first, such as they did Saturday when Minnesota turned the ball over five times (five different players) in a five-minute span as the Hoosiers went on an 18-2 run.

“We were playing pretty good for a good 8-10 minutes, then we had some breakdowns defensively and really took some poor shots, turned the ball over,” Smith said. “That can always cause a problems for you when you have 12 turnovers [in one half]. And I think that’s been one of our issues in the first half, we’ve turned the ball over a lot early on in games.”

To put it in a word – and one Smith used to describe the team’s woes – in a handful of games, the Gophers have simply lacked the aggressiveness they’ve exhibited in the second half.

The good news is that it’s there – and it’s effective. But the difference between being a good team and a great team is the how long a squad can maintain that edge. If the Gophers can only learn to harness that aggressive intensity earlier, they could truly compete with any team.

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 31 2nd Qtr 6:09
Cleveland 36
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 74 2nd Half 0:56
St Johns 66
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 31 2nd Half 17:10
Butler 34
NJIT 42 2nd Half 13:20
South Alabama 43
Northern Iowa 10 1st Half 12:31
Illinois State 8
Louisville 18 1st Half 11:03
Pittsburgh 14
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
UMBC 3:40 PM
Albany
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 52 2nd Half 3:01
Xavier 52
Creighton 34 2nd Half 20:00
Marquette 35
Providence 18 2nd Half
DePaul 49
Northeastern 37 2nd Half 14:30
Elon 52
(2) Connecticut 71 2nd Half 12:18
Cincinnati 21
Oregon 42 2nd Half 12:46
Arizona 42
Bradley 19 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 23
NC State 29 2nd Half 20:00
(23) Syracuse 26
(7) Maryland 47 2nd Half
Indiana 29
Illinois State 23 2nd Half 15:43
Missouri State 34
Colorado 9 1st Half 14:48
Washington St 5
Tulane 12 1st Half 12:40
South Florida 13
(14) Kentucky 11 1st Half 14:34
Missouri 10
(9) Oregon State 7 1st Half 14:10
(13) Arizona State 11
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
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