Deflated footballs? That's yesterday's news.

But were those Nebraska Cornhuskers inspired by the New England Patriots?

Andre Hollins -- questioned about the team's 9-for-19 performance from the free-throw line in a 52-49 loss to the Huskers on Tuesday night -- cited something other than the team's mind-boggling inability to hit shots from the charity stripe, a yearlong problem.

"They were loose rims and [Nebraska uses] Adidas balls, that has something to do with it," Hollins said. "But we've still got to knock those down to finish out the play."

The senior guard stopped far short of accusing anyone of cheating. Although Nike and Anaconda Sports The Rock balls are the most popular, Adidas balls are not unusual or unexpected -- Nebraska is sponsored by Adidas. And even if the rims were a little more relaxed than usual, it would have also affected the Huskers, who shot just over 40 percent from the field and went 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) from the line.

But it was an odd comment considering Minnesota (12-8; 1-6 in the Big Ten) has struggled to hit free throws all season. 

The Gophers' 63.9 percent free-throw overall shooting percentage ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten ahead of only Michigan State (63.2 percent). But in conference play, Minnesota has been even worse. The Spartans have shot an identical 63.2 so far while Minnesota has managed 61.2.

Hollins -- who was tied with Joey King for the best free-throw shooting percentage going into the game at 80 percent -- went 4-for-9 from the line, including 4-for-8 in the second half. He missed a pair that would have tied the game with 4:21 to go.

"Can't have that from the best free-throw shooter," he said.

Hollins also knocked down four three-pointers and an extra point in the first half for 13 points. He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds -- his second-career double-double all but glossed over in the scuffle of a sixth loss in seven games.

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