INDIANAPOLIS – At the end of it, Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins were on the bench, watching.
The final buzzer sounded, announcing the end of the brutal 83-57 blowout by their border rival, Wisconsin, and potentially the end of their Big Dance dreams.
The pair stood up, filed in line with their team, trudged through the handshake line and down into the underbelly of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With the contest long since out of control, the leaders had sat out the final minutes. In this one, they were only two of the many players in maroon and gold who struggled to get started offensively.
But in this one more than ever, the Gophers needed them to be so much more.
Hollins and Hollins led the way for one of the worst offensive performances of the season, with the Gophers making only 32.8 percent of their shots from the field. A night earlier against Penn State, Austin Hollins had played the star, finishing with 18 points in his fourth consecutive game of scoring at least 14. Andre Hollins had battled through foul trouble but rebounded to hit the single biggest shot of the game: a three-pointer with 15 seconds to play that sealed the first-round victory.
On Friday, the duo combined to go 3-for-20 from the field.
Did the team feel that strain and reflect it?
“How could they not?” coach Richard Pitino said. “Those are our two … main guys and Austin has really been scoring the ball at a high level. I thought Andre was getting good looks, it just wasn’t falling his way.”
Near the end, with the outcome largely decided, Andre Hollins hit a pair of three-pointers. At that point, Wisconsin still led 69-51 and Hollins’ threes merely seemed to delay the inevitable.
“It was just an off night,” Andre Hollins said. “I wasn’t getting anything at the basket, I wasn’t making shots. I hit a couple at the end, but it really didn’t matter.”
In the past two years, the junior has proved to be a critical factor in the Gophers’ postseason success. When Minnesota went to the NIT in his freshman season, Hollins averaged 17.3 points from the Big Ten tournament onward. Last year, the guard totaled 53 points in two NCAA tournament games.
This season, coming off an ankle injury in January — Hollins reiterated that he is now 100 percent healthy — he managed only 17 points in two games.
Austin Hollins, meanwhile, has been stellar in his past four, averaging 18.8 points in that span. Friday, he fell flat.
Without those two making plays in the backcourt, the look of the team changes, Pitino said.
Still, with a team that has become more diversified in its offense this year, Austin Hollins said he believes the team should be able to withstand even such struggles from two of its leading scorers.
“It’s tough, but it’s a team sport,” he said. “We win games as a team, and we lose games as a team. Of course we’re a big part of the team, but we’ve got Elliott [Eliason] and Mo [Walker] in the post, we’ve got Joey [King] down there. So we really can’t put it on ourselves.”