Postgame: Win to make NIT semifinals not all about Mathieu redemption
- Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
- March 26, 2014 - 12:52 AM
Read my full story on the Gophers' 81-73 win here.
Before Minnesota walked off the Williams Arena court for the last time in 2014, bound for the NIT semifinals in New York, before the Gophers even took the court, DeAndre Mathieu's mother called.
Remember that time in [current Southern Miss coach Donnie] Tyndall's office? she asked. The time when the former Morehead State coach didn't give her son a scholarship.
"Mom, it's not even about him anymore," he told her. "It's about winning this game and going to New York."
Tuesday, it wasn't about Mathieu. The 5-9 battled foul trouble in the first half and finished with just seven points and had five turnovers, while Austin Hollins (career-high 32 points), Joey King (15 points) and Mo Walker (12 points, nine rebounds, four assists, zero turnover, three blocks and three steals -- whoa) took over.
But no matter.
Going to Madison Square Garden was all Mathieu wanted.
Well, that and beating his former coach.
Tyndall was at Morehead State in 2012 when after his freshman season, Mathieu asked for a scholarship. Tyndall declined.
Since then, the pair hadn't spoken, despite that Tyndall said he's proud of his former player.
So when Mathieu heard who the Gophers' quarterfinal matchup would be, he was more than a little stoked.
"I was really excited," he said. "I'm even more excited now that we beat them. Because I would hate to hear what he had to say to the media after they beat us, like we didn't need DeAndre anyway. I'm just joking but yeah, man it feels good to just beat him. To know I played for him and he didn't give me a second chance, and to come out here and beat him, it feels really good."
Asked whether the night caused him to reflect on his long journey, Mathieu shook his head.
"It seems like forever ago," he said. "I don't even think about it anymore."
Back then, Mathieu said, even he didn't know if he would make it to this level, to be the starting point on a Big Ten team.
"The credit goes to DeAndre, the blame doesn't go to Tyndall," Pitino said. "He probably wasn't good enough to play at the time."
Now, Mathieu is just enjoying the fruits of his efforts.
"When I transferred it was just the best feeling," he said. "It just felt really good, and I'm just happy to be in the Big Ten and not still at Morehead, really."
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