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

Postgame: Sampson leaves Williams Arena on a high note

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: March 3, 2012 - 6:23 PM

 

Armelin led the Gophers with 20 points Sunday

Armelin led the Gophers with 20 points Sunday

 

 

Alright, there's been plenty of negatives this season, so for a minute, I'm going to focus on the positives.

 
The Gophers won a game they desperately needed to and have manufactured some good vibes which they hope can bring that momentum to the Big Ten tournament next week, where they'll face Northwestern in the opening round.
 
Ralph Sampson III, on senior day, exited his final game at the Barn on a high note, finishing with 12 points and five rebounds.
 
And the Gophers did several things really well. For example:
 
  • Five players scored in double digits
  • They got a much-needed spark plug and leading performance, both from Rodney Williams (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Chip Armelin (20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) off the bench. The Gophers really need someone to take charge like that, and today they got it.
  • The Gophers hit a season-high in the Big Ten with assists (23) and almost doubled their turnovers (12; including just three in the first half).
  • The Gophers looked aggressive, showed energy, ran a lot and scored 81 points -- the first time they've notched 70 or more in seven games. 
  • The team hit 10 three-pointers -- four each from Austin Hollins and Armelin, and a pair from Andre Hollins.
  • Gophers used the zone well today and it worked nicely against Nebraska -- why don't they use that more often again?

Of course, we've seen the Gophers do these things before -- and then dive headfirst into a loss the next day. And there is plenty of work still to do.

Bo Spencer, with his SEVEN three-pointers in the second half, demonstrated that Gopher opponents can still get hot against them from the outside and there's little they can do to stop it.

They again showed they have a difficult time keeping a lead. While the Gophers DID keep it, they let it shrink away a couple times -- including diminishing the 11-point advantage to just two five minutes into the second. 

They'll need to fix these if they hope to make any waves in the Big Ten tournament -- but nonetheless, today, even against the league's worst, was a good sign, if only to boost confidence on a team that could use some and help the Gophers remember what it feels like to win (I almost forgot how to write about a win, for my part).

"It was definitely a lot different than the past six games," Williams said. "Getting this last one in at home, everybody’s down there, they’re happy, music playing. We’re looking to ride this one to the Big Ten tournament."

 

 

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