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

Andre Hollins diagnosed with severe ankle sprain ... but the Gophers are now able to sustain such a loss.

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 23, 2014 - 3:57 PM

Andre Hollins update: Gophers coach Richard Pitino confirmed to the Star Tribune on Thursday that Hollins' X-rays on a left ankle injury came back negative. The junior guard has been diagnosed with a "severe ankle sprain," which was confirmed by an MRI. However, Pitino said the Hollins will be evaluated daily, and has not ruled out that he will play on Sunday at Nebraska. Hollins was injured 14 seconds into Wednesday's game vs. Wisconsin, when he landed on a defender's foot after coming down from a jump shot. The guard was fitted for a boot and getting around on crutches in the locker room after the game.

At the beginning of the season, if we had been told that Andre Hollins would go down with an ankle injury just a few seconds into a game against No. 9 Wisconsin, we all probably would have chalked that one up to a loss.

What could they do? Their best player and offensive leader was down.

But the Gophers are so much more than that now.

At this point in the season, Hollins might not even be the most damaging loss in a game like this. That's not to say that the junior guard isn't a major part of what Minnesota does -- he was leading the team with 16.2 points a game coming into last night, after all -- but simply that the Gophers no longer rely on him to run the point (imagine if DeAndre Mathieu went down? Yikes.) and that they've found so much offensive balance around him in the backcourt.

That kind of variance instills a new confidence in both the players and those watching them. 

When a guy like Hollins hits the floor, they can look around at each other and think "Hey, we're OK."

The Gophers have Austin Hollins, who when he's being aggressive -- and he certainly was at the end of the game -- can be a major spark. They have DeAndre Mathieu, who might be one of the most talented little guys in the game when it comes to scoring on the drive. They have Malik Smith, who looked as sharp as he has all year against Wisconsin, playing very complete offense -- taking the ball to the hoop as well as creating opportunities for his teammates. We've seen him grow a ton, already, since the beginning of the season -- a statement that I guess holds for all of those guys.

None of that is to mention the newly invigorated frontcourt, the surprise of the season, with Mo Walker stealing the show last night with his career 18-point, nine-rebound performance and incredible lift in the first half. That, of course, is the kind of offensive equilibrium Minnesota needs in order to give their guards the space to operate effectively.

No, the Gophers are not solely The Andre Hollins Team any longer.

Still, such a dominant offensive performance (58.9 percent shooting from the field; 81 points on 58 possessions) with the star guard contributing only a few seconds is extremely meaningful for Minnesota. While the Gophers don't rely on Hollins in the same way as they thought they might, he's had huge offensive games in nearly every big win Minnesota has had, with the exception of the Ohio State victory. Take a look:

at Richmond: 26 points
vs. Florida State: 21 points
vs. Purdue: 17 points
vs. Ohio State: 10 points

At Michigan State, when the Gophers brought the Spartans to overtime at Breslin Center, Hollins had 24. At Iowa, when the Gophers authored a double-digit lead in the second half, Hollins had 20.

Then the Gophers were without him for the new "biggest game of the season" to that point, and, well, they did just fine. They thrived, in fact. 

That wasn't the case a year ago, when the Gophers lost seven of the nine league games that Hollins scored 13 points or fewer (and the two that they won with him scoring fewer than 13 were against Penn State and Northwestern).

With Hollins' status going forward uncertain, the new trend is a positive sign for the Gophers.

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Philadelphia 14 3rd Qtr 2:45
Washington 17
San Diego 7:25 PM
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Houston
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Michigan 51
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Providence 85
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Villanova 82
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Fair-Dickinson 76
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Florida State 75
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Houston 63
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Illinois 62
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McNeese State 69
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UNC Greensboro 64
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Penn State 73
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Rutgers 68
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Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
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Indiana State 56
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Butler 73
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Memphis 78
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Oregon 83
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Rhode Island 69
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UT Martin 77
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Wagner 66
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Wyoming 57
Iowa State 68 2nd Half 7:11
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Florida 43
High Point 56 2nd Half 8:06
James Madison 59
Texas Southern 42 2nd Half 7:35
Michigan State 50
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Santa Clara 62
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Texas State 69
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Idaho State
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Portland
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Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
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UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 38 4th Qtr 13:12
Colorado State 10
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Air Force 6
South Alabama 8:15 PM
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UNC Greensboro 81
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St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
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Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
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Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
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Army 70
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Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
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Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
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Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 39 2nd Half 7:21
Utah 53
Southern Utah 39 2nd Half 7:42
Gonzaga 59
Hawaii 60 2nd Half 7:59
Loyola Marymount 62
San Jose St 46 2nd Half 8:01
San Francisco 66
CS-Northridge 44 2nd Half 11:07
San Diego State 34
Norfolk State 28 2nd Half 9:47
East Carolina 41
Saint Peters 42 2nd Half 5:43
Loyola-Maryland 47
Arizona 25 2nd Half
Stephen F Austin 23
Northwestern 32 2nd Half 8:00
Eastern Illinois 79
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
Oral Roberts 18 1st Half 6:35
Wisconsin 23
Florida Atlantic 18 1st Half 2:55
New Mexico St 27
(16) Oregon State 0 1st Half 20:00
Nevada 0
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
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Cincinnati
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Tennessee St
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Utah Valley U
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UC-Riverside
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Montana
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(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
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