Minnesota’s struggles could be seen plainly in Andre Hollins’ face.
The Gophers’ best talker, best analyzer, best explainer – was out of words, reasons and explanations.
After five losses that could be boil down to two major problems, how do you find new or patient ways to discuss the same old story?
We beat ourselves again, that’s it – that’s all I’ll say,” a clearly frustrated Hollins said. “We just need to get some continuity going offensively. We’re just standing around sometimes and I guess we’re getting well-scouted, I guess that it. And I don’t know.”
A confounded offense and an affinity for turnovers. The cock and trigger.
Tonight was a new night, a different arena than the Gophers have played in this season – but the mistakes were the same. In the half-court, the Gophers were off-balance, standing around, allowing the Spartans to take away their inside game, forcing shots, settling for bad passes. Minnesota had 12 turnovers, which Michigan State cashed in for 19 points.
So no, statistically the Gophers haven’t played themselves into the bottom half of the Big Ten or a NCAA tournament miss or anything like that. But the fact that through the losses, through the season so far, nothing has been significantly changed or adjusted from those standpoints – those are the things that are concerning for a team with a recent history of league collapses.
Notes on tonight’s 61-50 loss at Michigan State:
- Freshman Gary Harris, who hadn’t practiced much since suffering back spasms in Thursday’s game against Illinois, was terrific for Michigan State, playing through the pain, scoring a game-high 15 points and hitting four of eight 3-pointers. The Gophers had no answer for him behind the arc.
- Travis Trice – who was suffering concussion-like symptoms after hitting his head in the Illinois game – didn’t play.
- Wally Ellenson, who played four minutes and went 0-for-1 from the field, came out with a strained left Achilles tendon. No details yet on how this will immediately affect him.
- The Gophers made two comebacks vs the Spartans, first after getting into a seven-point hole early in the first half (and then recovering to lead 20-18 at halftime) and the second, a 12-point deficit in the second half, returning within four with 2:48 remaining only to swiftly hand back the momentum. The Spartans finished on a 12-3 run, not unlike the 12-0 finishing run the Gophers managed in the season series first game at Williams Arena.
- Trevor Mbakwe was fouled hard late in the first half, landing on his sprained right wrist. Mbakwe came up wincing and clutching his hand. He played with it taped for the rest of the game. Afterward, he again downplayed the injury, saying it wasn’t affecting him too badly.
- What a difference a half makes: after shooting just 24 percent from the field in the first half, Michigan State went off for 66.7 in the second.
- Austin Hollins was “a little under the weather” tonight, according to coach Tubby Smith.