Gophers, tourney hopes crumble in home loss to Illinois

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 20, 2014 - 11:35 AM

After Minnesota led 14-3, lowly Illinois roared back behind freshman Kendrick Nunn's three-pointers.

view larger photos

  

Three days earlier, the Gophers had fought for a road victory at Northwestern to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

Wednesday night at Williams Arena, they tossed that momentum to the curb, almost certainly crushing their chances with a 62-49 loss to Illinois, a team that had lost 10 of its previous 11 games.

“If we play like that, we have no shot,” center Elliott Eliason said. “So I don’t even know what to think.”

After watching a 14-3 start crumble to only three, 27-24, at the break, Minnesota struggled to regain any effectiveness. The Gophers allowed Illinois — the Big Ten’s worst three-point shooting team at 30.8 percent — to go 8-for-13 from three-point range, while managing to shoot only 37.3 percent from the field themselves. Freshman guard Kendrick Nunn, a Gopher-killer all night long, made five of seven three-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points.

Andre Hollins led the Gophers (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten) with 15 points, and Austin Hollins looked more aggressive than he has in at least four games (10 points, seven rebounds), but otherwise positives were in short supply. Malik Smith went 0-for-7 from the field and point guard DeAndre Mathieu, after collecting two early fouls, looked completely out of whack. With Illinois (14-12, 3-10) trapping him off ball screens — similar to how Nebraska defended him — Mathieu turned the ball over three times and lost his effectiveness, eventually fouling out with 35 seconds to go with three points and three assists.

“I stunk it up,” Mathieu said. “I picked the wrong time to play my worst game of the season.”

The finish was hard to imagine considering the start.

The Gophers looked to be cruising after getting out to a 14-3 lead on the strength of strong inside play from Mo Walker and two dunks from Austin Hollins.

But when Mathieu picked up his second foul with 11:45 remaining in the first half and came out, Minnesota’s offense stalled. Minnesota allowed the Illini to make six of nine shots from three-point range, while the Gophers, with a bombs-away attitude themselves, went only 3-for-15 from behind the arc.

That one-dimensional offensive attack didn’t change in the second half despite its utter inefficiency. With the guards struggling against Illinois’ perimeter defense, the Illini adjusted to collapse in the paint, making it tough for the Gophers to force the ball inside. While Illinois started the second half on a 22-8 run, Minnesota went only 4-for-25 from three-point range for the game and had only 24 points in the paint.

“It’s pretty disappointing because we kept saying, ‘Stop shooting threes. Drive it. Go inside,’ ” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “But we just kept settling.”

With three ranked opponents ahead in Ohio State (No. 24), Iowa (15) and at Michigan (20) on the immediate docket before finishing with a home game vs. Penn State, the road ahead looks less than conducive to securing a tournament berth.

Before Wednesday, the Gophers were firmly on the bubble.

“We got out to a nice lead in the beginning and I don’t know what we thought we were going to do — if we were just going to walk away with it and they were just going to quit?” Eliason said. “I mean, this was a team that was down 20 to Iowa and came back and took a lead. I don’t know, we just stopped playing, I guess. And we lost.”



 

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Illinois 62, Gophers basketball 49

    Thursday February 20, 2014

  • Postgame: Not a lot of positives in loss vs. Illinois

    Thursday February 20, 2014

    The Good -- and mostly the bad -- in the newest "ugliest game of the year."

  • Gophers-Illinois game recap

    Thursday February 20, 2014

    GAME RECAPImpact playerKendrick Nunn, IllinoisThe guard came in having hit only 17 three-pointers this season, but the Gophers’ perimeter defense...

  • Maurice Walker, DeAndre Mathieu and Elliott Eliason sat on the bench as time ticked away during the second half in a loss to Illinois at Williams Arena on Wednesday, February 19, 2014.

  • Andre Hollins got tripped up and fouled by Illinois Tracy Abrams during the first half at Williams Arena

  • Gopher Elliott Eliason looked to pass after pulling down an offensive rebound during the first half at Williams Arena Wednesday, February 19, 2014. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • Gophers guard Austin Hollins lost the ball between his legs while being guarded by Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn during the second half at Williams Arena on Wednesday.

  • Point guard DeAndre Mathieu’s two early fouls disrupted the Gophers’ offense on Wednesday night vs. Illinois. He eventually fouled out with three points and three assists.

  • Gophers guard Andre Hollins got caught in traffic trying to drive. He led the team in scoring with 15 points.

  • ILLINOIS 62, Gophers 49

    Up next: 5 p.m. Saturday at No. 24 Ohio State • TV: BTN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close