Gophers guards help turn defeat into victory

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2014 - 12:35 AM

DeAndre Mathieu and Austin Hollins struggled early but starred late, helping catch and put away pesky Penn State.

hide

Minnesota's Austin Hollins passes the ball over Penn State's Tim Frazier at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.

– Just when it looked as if the Gophers wouldn’t be able to overcome the plethora of mistakes that had buried them Wednesday night, two of the scapegoats came through.

With 1 minute, 49 seconds on the clock and the Gophers trailing by one point — having returned from an eight-point deficit — Austin Hollins got a piece of the basketball, turning over Geno Thorpe and taking it to the other end for a layup attempt, which DeAndre Mathieu tipped in. Just over a minute later, when Minnesota was clinging to a one-point lead, Mathieu swiped the ball from John Johnson at half-court, giving the Gophers a three-point lead they’d be able to keep.

Lucky for the Gophers (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten), who played from behind for most of the game, and who follow the 68-65 victory at Bryce Jordan Center with an incredibly tough four-game stretch: at Michigan State, against Ohio State, at Iowa and against Wisconsin.

“Coach [Richard Pitino] got into me at halftime,” Mathieu said. “I wasn’t playing hard enough, my body language was not what he was wanting it to be, so I had to change my attitude, come back and play harder in the second half.”

But it was partly those two guards that nearly cost the Gophers. Both Austin Hollins — who struggled through the entire game, finishing with four points and four rebounds — and Mathieu, who finished with 16 points and four rebounds after a big second half, were essentially absent in a first half that felt like a roller coaster.

After displaying exceptional defense in holding Penn State (9-7, 0-3) scoreless for nearly seven minutes to start the game, the Gophers fell apart. The Nittany Lions took advantage of a barrage of Gophers turnovers and worked a 14-4 run through Tim Frazier (20 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and strong inside play by Chaska native Ross Travis (18 points, 13 rebounds). As its margin shrank, Minnesota — which was excelling early by getting the ball into Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason, who had his fifth double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds — began to panic. Mathieu looked frustrated on the court. Austin Hollins couldn’t get involved. And without two of their leaders playing well, the Gophers simply looked sloppy, turning over the ball 14 times.

“Nothing was going right for us, especially offensively,” Pitino said, before quickly adding that the most important thing was ultimately pulling out the victory. “We were making losing plays, like not blocking out, turning the ball over, doing a lot of silly things.”

The Gophers trailed 35-30 at halftime but were able to tie the score with just over six minutes left on a pair of big plays by Mathieu, who hit a short jumper and then sank two free throws after getting fouled on the next possession. After Frazier fouled out with 2:08 remaining, Malik Smith hit four free throws in the last 23 seconds to keep the Gophers on top, and each of Penn State’s final two three-point attempts — the last at the buzzer — fell short.

With the victory, the Gophers have a winning record in the league, but face some critical concerns going forward, the most pressing of which might be their seeming inability to hold a lead.

“We have three really tough games coming up,” Eliason said. “That’s a huge stretch for us, so we’ve really got to iron some things out here. … We need to turn around and fix some of our mistakes.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close