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 pregame: Andre Hollins back vs. Purdue

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: February 5, 2014 - 7:24 PM

Update: Surprise! Andre Hollins will return to the court for tonight's game at Purdue, and will be in the starting lineup. The junior guard has missed the last three games after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the opening seconds of Minnesota's home game against Wisconsin on Jan. 22. The Gophers' staff had originally said that Hollins was extremely doubtful tonight. The announcment was made just before tip-off, after the guard was suited, and had gone through shootaround with the team.

In all liklihood, Andre Hollins will not be back for tonight's game at Purdue.

But that doesn't change the impetus. 

The Gophers are in big need of a win to stop the current two-game slide, one that probably feels worse than it is because it includes losses against Nebraska and Northwestern.

It won't be an easy victory -- Minnesota is obviously missing Hollins badly, and it's never easy to pull out a win in a Big Ten opponents' house -- but the Gophers have already shown they can beat Purdue this season, and the Boilermakers haven't looked much changed since then (except A.J. Hammons has been better).

"I think it's two teams kind of trying to figure out their issues amongst themselves more than anything," coach Richard Pitino said. "But it's going to be a tough test for us. It's always tough to beat a team twice."

Pitino gathered the team after Saturday's loss and reminded them that this is a new year, and they should try to enjoy the season for what it is. That enjoyment comes a lot easier when a team is playing well, but sometimes the former can spur the latter. Whether the Gophers are able to harness a new approach tonight could correspond with whether they are able to pull out a win.

Some notes on tonight's game:

*Minnesota planned to fly in last night, but were unable to with a snowstorm rolling through Indiana. The Gophers landed around noon local time today instead. The sun came out for a little while this afternoon, but it is still a pretty big mess in West Lafayette. 

*The Gophers have only swept an opponent in the regular season twice in the last three years. Last year, they didn't win two against any team in the conference in the regular season; in 2011-12, they swept Nebraska; in 2010-11, they swept Iowa.

*Since playing the Gophers, Hammons has failed to score in double digits just once and has had fewer than seven rebounds just twice. He has averaged 14 points and 7.1 rebounds in that span. Against the Gophers, Hammons managed just seven points and a single rebound. Elliott Eliason will have to be playing much more effectively than he has in the last few games if he wants to stymy the Boilermakers center again. If Mo Walker takes a big share of the minutes, the interior defense will take a hit.

*We love to talk about what the Gophers will do when teams slow it down, but that really hasn't been a legitimate storyline this season, with Minnesota playing pretty darn slow itself. It seems the Gophers are plenty comfortable with slow. But what about playing fast? They've struggled against teams that push the tempo a little more. Iowa certainly did, and the Gophers were left in the dust. Nebraska has been decently quick in the conference schedule. But Purdue is really the only other team the Gophers have faced that truly get up and down. The Boilermakers aren't Iowa, but they do play at the 54th quickest pace in college basketball, according to kenpom.com. That probably had something to do with the Gophers allowing a 19-point lead to trickle away down the stretch, and it's something to watch again.

*Andre Hollins had 17 points and five assists against Purdue. Without him, the Gophers might have been overcome by the late Boilermakers run.

*Pitino said the player he's been most impressed with since Hollins went down with his ankle injury is Daquein McNeil. "Day-Day has been the one guy that we've kind of thrown in there and he's been very good," Pitino said. "His best basketball is far, far ahead of him, certainly." McNeil has total six points, five rebounds and three assists since the Wisconsin game.

*Pitino reiterated that he wasn't worried about Eliason, who has averaged three points and 3.3 rebounds in the last three games. "The Nebraska game, I think was more at Nebraska, he's from there, I just think frame-of-mind wise he wasn't in the best place," the coach said. "I think Wisconsin, I think Mo [Walker] stepped up, I don't think it was necessarily anything that Elliott did, and then Northwestern was the same. I'm not worried about Elliott, I'm really not. I think Mo is playing very, very well, and I think Elliott can give us a lot, which he's given us all year."

*One of the media's favorite questions this year has been about whether Pitino will ever play Eliason and Walker together in the frontcourt. The coach wouldn't budge on his stance on Tuesday. His response was good-humored and comical:

"Should I put a sign on the door that says 'I'm not going to do that?,' Pitino asked. "Do you coach basketball? I want to know what you would do defensively with Elliott and Mo in the game. How would you guard somebody? Last game, they had a pick-and-pop four-man, how would you guard that? Chase him off a down screen? So like a hard-driving team like Purdue, with like a Basil Smotherman, you like Mo in front of him? No, I don't see it. I'm sorry. I mean I respect your alls opinion, I don't like playing like that, I really don't."

*Pitino said he didn't talk to Walker specifically about his end-of-game miss on Saturday, but made it clear he didn't think that loss was about a single shot. "I didn't even bring up the shot," Pitino said. "He was crying because he missed the shot. As much as it's nice that he cares, he was crying because he missed the shot -- which is normal. But he's not the reason we lost. We highlighted a lot of reason why we lost, and Mo's missed layup had nothing to do with it in my opinion. I think he understands that he's playing really really well."

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Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 79 4th Qtr 5:10
Toronto 92
Memphis 68 3rd Qtr 2:57
San Antonio 60
Milwaukee 6 1st Qtr 9:33
Portland 2
Houston 9:30 PM
Denver
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 3rd Prd 10:17
Minnesota 1
Dallas 0 1st Prd 17:36
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 1st OT 2:30
Houston 45
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 1st OT 0:04
Old Dominion 56
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 32 2nd Half 19:35
Auburn 40
New Mexico St 32 2nd Half 16:45
Baylor 37
San Diego St 26 2nd Half 17:22
Cincinnati 26
Eastern Mich 22 2nd Half 18:07
Michigan State 38
Loyola Marymount 40 2nd Half 13:14
Stanford 39
Incarnate Word 47 2nd Half 15:53
Grand Canyon 55
Northeastern 12 1st Half 13:20
Cal Poly 6
Central Arkansas 11 1st Half 14:37
New Mexico 5
Howard 5 1st Half 15:39
Pepperdine 3
Portland 9:30 PM
UNLV
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
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Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
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Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
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
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 38 2nd Half 11:44
Eastern Washington 48
North Texas 0 1st Half 15:55
San Francisco 4

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