This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers might not be hitting Illinois at the greatest time

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 8, 2013 - 12:51 PM

The new task for the Gophers: facing teams they’ve already beaten once this season and yet have morphed into incredibly tougher threats in round 2.

Wednesday, that team was Michigan State, which dismantled the Gophers despite the fact that the Spartans threw out a band of limping, bleeding, broken-backed, dislocated-shouldered warriors and were without another (Travis Trice) who had a concussion.

Next up: Illinois – a team whose 3-7 conference record doesn’t come close to explaining just how dangerous they are.

Anyone who watched last night’s Illini game vs. No. 1 Indiana knows that. The Hoosiers shot 50 percent from the field, and nearly 53 percent from 3-point range. They got double-digit scoring efforts from Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Will Sheehey. They got 19 points from their bench and scored 28 points in the paint.

And still, the Illini – after falling down by 10 with 4:21 to go – snuck up and made four of five shots (including two 3-pointers) and three of four free throws down the stretch to tie the game at 72 with 37 seconds left.

D.J. Richardson got Victor Oladipo to cough up the ball at the end of Indiana’s possession and after Oladipo blocked his short jumper on the other end out of bounds with less than a second left, the Illini incredibly converted a Tyler Griffey layup at the buzzer when Zeller completely lost his man.

With the win, Illinois bolstered its case for an NCAA tournament invite despite that poor conference record. Enough big wins now – Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana – makes their league record more palatable, especially since their losses, other than at home against Northwestern, aren’t terrible.

But most importantly for that team is the confidence and momentum that will follow this game, which some players were calling the instigator of a turnaround last night. They’ve proven they can beat anyone when they’re on their game.

And with that fact never more evident than last night, the Gophers are truly hitting the Illini at a bad time.

When Minnesota last faced Illinois, the Gophers completely overwhelmed the Illini with offense. They shot 52.9 percent from the field. They had 14 points off the fast break. Joe Coleman scored a career-high 29 points. This team was playing differently then.

This is not to say the Gophers CAN’T beat Illinois now – they certainly can, and have shown they are capable of playing at a high level – but the concerning trend may be that the Gophers have not been able to show they can beat the top teams (they are 0-3 vs. teams ranked in the top 10 at the time they met), while the Illini have (with wins over Ohio State, Gonzaga and now Indiana). And while the Illini reacted in an impressive way to their own shortcomings, the Gophers haven’t had a truly impressive victory over a good team since starting the season 15-1.

Count on Sunday’s game being yet another big test for the 2013 Gophers – something that might not have been said 24 hours ago.

Two other (unrelated) notes:

  • Gophers AD Norwood Teague was on Dan Barreiro’s show on KFAN on Wednesday (before the game at Michigan State) and, among other things, addressed the struggles of the Gophers, and Tubby Smith’s job security. His answers were interesting:

“I’ve said I’m going to let the season play out and evaluate the whole body of work,” Teague said. “Let’s just see what happens. I don’t want to over-evaluate coach in the middle of the year, I don’t think it’s fair to them. But I’m going to look at the whole year.”

(On whether there is any circumstance in which Smith does not return): “I hope not. Unless he, I think he’s committed, I know he’s committed to being here and I want to see him come back. He’s working hard, and I think he wants to do the right thing. We’ll just see.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily take “We’ll just see” as a ringing endorsement of Smith’s current body of work.

  • St. Cloud Tech graduate Nate Wolters scored 53 points against IPFW last night, the most anyone has scored in a non-overtime D-1 game since 2009 (when Jodie Meeks put up 54 for Kentucky). Think his scoring capabilities would fit in well with these Gophers and their jump shot offense? Yes, I think so too.


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51


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