College Park, Md. – Mo Walker had gotten into a groove.
After the Gophers had fallen behind by 15 in the first half Saturday at Maryland, they established the game plan that has been a critical piece of most of their victories this season:
Pound the ball inside and find "Big Mo."
It worked, swimmingly. Walker finished the first half with 12 points, including three consecutive baskets, a major factor in a 13-0 run that pushed the Gophers within three of the No. 12 Terrapins at halftime.
"My teammates are getting me the ball on the low block where I'm comfortable," said Walker, who has totaled 33 points and 17 rebounds in the Gophers' two Big Ten games, both defeats, including Saturday's 70-58 loss to Maryland. "I feel like I'm producing, making plays around the rim, finding them open for kick outs and I'm confident in my abilities."
But although the 6-10 senior center finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, nothing came easily in the second half. After the break, the Terrapins adjusted and doubled Walker for big stretches, halting the Gophers' interior game.
"He's a good coach, they make adjustments," coach Richard Pitino said of Maryland's Mark Turgeon. "We knew that would happen, so you give them credit."
Without Walker's efficiency, the Terrapins were able to better focus on guarding the perimeter. The Gophers shot only 13.6 percent (3-for-22) from three-point range, as their momentum abruptly fizzled.
"You've just got to find ways to put the ball in the basket and score," forward Carlos Morris said. "So if they double him more, the [power forward] has got to get more involved. Mo is really our only low-post scorer, so when he's not getting involved with the game, it's kind of hard."