After the Gophers shot 1-for-13 from 3-point range on Saturday, they vowed to give shooting extra focus in practice.
Minnesota has shot OK from the distance in several games, but so far have been pretty inconsistent, even from one half to the next.
For one game, anyway, the extra work looked well worth it, as the Gophers shot a season-high 56.9 percent from the field and converted (also a season-high) 10 three-pointers, six of which were from Andre Hollins, who had a terrific first half.
“The whole team was hitting threes tonight, so I think it paid off for everybody,” Austin Hollins said.
After initially struggling to create separation at the very beginning, the Gophers played a very complete game, scoring the most points they’ve had in a game since 2010, playing solid defense and keeping turnovers within a respectable range (13) (perhaps I should clarify that by saying they kept turnovers below their own average).
The game didn’t have the competitiveness – or at least the intrigue -- it might have had with Nate Wolters (who sat with an ankle injury), but all-in-all, more positive steps for the Gophers.
Other notes on the 88-64 win:
- Without an injured Wolters on the other side, the Gophers took the game to out-of-control level, dictating their up-tempo pace halfway through the first and holding the Jackrabbits to 38.6 percent shooting on the other end. After struggling to create separation early, leading just 15-10 after eight minutes, the Gophers’ inside play started to pick up – getting scores from Andre Ingram and Trevor Mbakwe. As the Gophers padded a small lead, SDSU’s discipline started to break down and the Gophers snatched every miss for a fast break and by halftime had built a 48-24 advantage. They never looked back from there.
- Andre Hollins had another one of those nights. When he gets on, he’s on. After hitting three 3-pointers in the first seven minutes, the sophomore made another three in a 2:31 span right before the break. As the crowd started to chant his name, he forced one shot, which was his only miss, and then Tubby Smith took him out to cheers. He finished with 20 points in the first half and 22 overall. He wasn’t getting very good looks in the second, and I think his decision not to push the issue was a good one.
- Meanwhile, Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman both finished strong. Coleman in particular had a fantastic game, his best of the year in my opinion, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and NO turnovers.
- After 18 consecutive games of scoring in double-digits, Rodney Williams finished with just two points. The beauty of that is, with everything else this group did, that was simply an afterthought. That Williams doesn’t have the constant pressure to be the guy is probably one of the reasons he’s blossomed so reliably this year.
- Said Trevor Mbakwe on missing Wolters, who was a game-time decision: “Yeah, we were disappointed. Obviously you want to play all teams to their full strength. Nate’s a great player, a lot of people think he could be an NBA player and they’re definitely a different team without him and you can tell. We were kind of fortunate to play without him.”
- The Gophers forced the Jackrabbits, normally very tight with their ballhandling, into 18 turnovers tonight. Of course, seven of those came from freshman Jake Bittle, who took over at point for Wolters.
- Dre Hollins, on fans chanting his name after the six 3-pointers: “That was funny. I can’t wait until Big Ten play, to see all the students, everybody fill up the Barn.” (That’s you guys.)