One more test was presented to the Gophers on Tuesday, and one more test was aced.
At the end of a long trip that included four games in six days, Minnesota came out and handed a big loss to Florida State in its building.
No, the Gophers weren’t perfect, but they got the job done, and once more showed the effectiveness of the new, tough defense we’ve seen from them this year.
Some notes from the game:
• The players all know it and are quick to say it: one of the best things about this team is its balance on offense, which makes it hard – as Joe Coleman pointed out tonight – for opponents to focus on any one player. Tonight the Gophers had four of their five starters finish in double digits and the one that didn’t (Elliott Eliason) had ten rebounds.
• FSU looked really discombobulated tonight and struggled immensely in the first half. Some of that was Gophers’ defense. But some of that was just a really bad night.
• Joe Coleman has been looking like the preseason Joe Coleman in these last two games, and tonight, his second-half effort -- just when the Seminoles were threatening with a run – was huge.
• The Gophers held the Seminoles to 37.9 percent of their shots, but the biggest key was the early hole Minnesota put FSU in – killing the Seminoles defensively and gaining a 21-16 advantage on the boards.
• No one would blame the Gophers if they were a little bit tired near the end – and they looked it a little – but unlike last year’s team often did, Minnesota held strong. At the same time, Coleman (35), Rodney Williams (32) and Austin Hollins (31) all logged some of the most minutes they’ve played in a game this season.
• It is certainly not where the Gophers want it to be -- by any means – but 12 turnovers is actually an improvement. Minnesota averaged 16 coming into tonight.
• Coach Tubby Smith attributes the change to the tweaks he’s made on offense, limiting ball handling for the big men.
• Julian Welch had probably his best game of the season so far, finishing with seven points (including a 3-pointer), two assists and no turnovers.
• Elliott Eliason didn’t realize just how big seven-footer Kiel Turpin was until he played a few minutes with the FSU big man. “I didn’t realize how big he was until I got that one I tried to put on the same side,” he said. He’s pretty dang tall.”