Nolen's absence all too apparent in Minnesota's first loss

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2010 - 1:06 PM

Without their senior stopper, the Gophers couldn't slow down the Cavs, who turned a 13-point deficit into a 8-point victory.

view larger photos

  

When the Gophers needed a stop, they couldn't go to their best defender.

Hindered by a foot injury, Al Nolen wore a suit on the sideline during Virginia's 87-79 upset on Monday night as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Williams Arena, handing Tubby Smith his first home nonconference loss in four seasons coaching the Gophers.

"It's really tough," said Blake Hoffarber, who led the 15th-ranked Gophers with 19 points. "[Nolen is] one of the best defenders in the country. I think we missed that tonight. Hopefully, he can get back soon. Anytime you're missing your point guard, it's going to be tough on a team."

Nolen's absence turned a previously spotty perimeter defense into an open field.

Behind 10-for-13 shooting from the three-point line, the Cavaliers (4-3) went from trailing 42-29 with 19 minutes, 37 seconds to play to up 68-54 some 14 minutes later -- a 27-point swing in a game that Smith called "a complete defensive breakdown."

Without Nolen on the floor when Virginia hacked at their lead, the Gophers (6-1) tried to get back into the game with hurried threes. They might have forgotten they were ninth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting entering Monday's game, when they took 22 attempts and missed 13.

"Certainly when you lose a leader, a point guard, a senior ... you know he kind of steadies the ship," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "I know that was a loss for them."

With a carefree pace established by alley-oops, behind-the-back passes and rim-shaking dunks, the Gophers looked at ease on their way to 22-9 run to open the game. They held leads of 24-12, 36-26 and 39-29 with a 57.7 percent shooting clip before halftime in a game played in front of an announced crowd of 12,089.

Junior guard Devoe Joseph, who made his first appearance this season after missing his team's first six games because of a rules violation, finished with 16 points, and Trevor Mbakwe recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

But Virginia casually exposed the home team's lingering weaknesses throughout the contest. Three-pointers kept the Cavaliers in the game, as they hit nine of their first 11 attempts.

The Gophers continue to struggle with defending the three-point line under Smith. They were sixth in the Big Ten in three-point defense his first season (33.6 percent allowed), ninth (35.1 percent) in his second season and seventh (34.1 percent) in his third season. They entered Monday's game in ninth place, after their first six opponents hit 33.9 percent of their three-pointers.

Perhaps Smith would have put a healthy Nolen on Mustapha Farrakan, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the final 9:28 of the first half. That stretch gave the Cavaliers -- a squad that Washington beat by 43 points a week ago at the Maui Invitational -- enough hope to keep fighting in the second half.

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered. The Gophers didn't have an answer for Virginia's inside-outside tandem of Mike Scott (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Joe Harris (game-high 24 points, 4-for-6 from three-point line).

"It was probably as pathetic an effort defensively we've had in a long time," Smith said. "A lot of it had to do with Virginia."

Late in the second half, the Gophers launched a final comeback attempt. Down 13 with 4:54 remaining, they cut their deficit to six points, when Virginia led 73-67 with 1:59 to play.

That run might have turned the game, but the Big Ten's worst free-throw shooting team shot 8-for-14 from the charity stripe in the second half, while Virginia went 22-for-26 in the half and 25-for-30 for the game.

The Gophers will have to find a way to go forward without Nolen, who could miss two weeks or more.

"We don't have anyone at the point of attack that's pressuring the ball and creating havoc," Smith said.

  • related content

  • Gophers-Virginia game recap

    Monday November 29, 2010

    MVPMustapha Farrakhan, VirginiaHe scored 14 of his 23 points in the last 9 minutes, 28 seconds of the first half....

  • Mbakwe, Sampson block a shot.

  • ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE VIRGINIA 87, NO. 15 GOPHERS 79

    Up next: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Cornell Williams Arena • TV: BTN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 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
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 6
Toronto 0 FINAL
Detroit 3
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Florida 4 FINAL
Dallas 5
Winnipeg 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arizona 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 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
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close