The 2013-14 Gophers thought, coming into tonight's game against Richmond, that they might finally be tested.
They were, and they came out on the other side.
After battling with Richmond for most of the game, Minnesota called a timeout with 7:23 to go and came back a different team. The Gophers ditched the press -- which was hurting them all game as the Spiders were beating it and taking advantage at the rim -- and went on a 19-0 run, holding Richmond scoreless for the rest of the game.
It was a pretty strong adjustment for a team that looked panicked at times in the second half. Andre Hollins (26 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) and Austin Hollins (11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists) -- with an NBA scout in the crowd to see them tonight -- were both phenomenal in keeping the Gophers afloat. The win gives them a meaningful victory early, and an experience that will be beneficial to look back on, Pitino noted.
"They’ve never had a Big Ten program in their building," he said of Richmond. "That’s no coincidence. Nobody wants to come and play here because it’s a great program, it’s a tough place to play. So to be able to come in here and get the win and to be able to look back now, as we go into Big Ten play and we start getting some true road games, to just be able to reference back to the toughness they showed today."
Some other notes from tonight's game:
- Tonight marked the second consecutive double-double for Austin Hollins. He had 11 points and 10 rebounds against Montana. "I’m just in the right place at the right time, crashing the boards more," Hollins said. "That’s something I’ve been working on in practice, something that I’m really thinking about when I go out on the floor."
- Overall, the Gophers had by far their best rebounding night of the year, outrebounding Richmond, 54-37. Eliason had nine, Osenieks had five and King -- who had only grabbed three all year coming in -- had seven.
- Eliason, Austin Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu were out for most of the first half after collecting a pair of fouls each. Without them, the Gophers' struggled mightily on defense and were forced into the following lineup: Andre Hollins, Wally Ellenson, Malik Smith, Oto Osenieks and Joey King. It looked a bit awkward, and Hollins seemed to have an adjustment period, but ultimately the Gophers were able to hold Richmond well enough during that time. The Gophers had their most fouls of the season tonight, with 20.
- Rodney Williams came to tonight's game, traveling from Delaware, where he is in the D-league, with an old high school coach of his. Pretty good win," he said with a grin. "Should have won by 30, but it’s like that sometimes … I miss it a lot. After four long years, it’s hard not to miss that."