One week after a victory that was closer than it should have been, the Gophers' final exhibition tuneup was supposed to prove the squad had learned from its mistakes.
Instead of making a statement, the Gophers made many of the same slipups all over again.
True, they were clearly a better team in the second half, and Trevor Mbakwe was once again the best player on the court, but a 72-60 victory over Division II Augustana on Monday was too close for comfort, and it begged a familiar question:
Are the Gophers ready?
"I think the first half was good for us," Mbakwe said. "This is where we see what kind of team we are with adversity."
Under pressure all night, the Gophers fought back to a respectable finish, but D-I opponents might not be so exhaustible.
Poor shooting again grabbed the spotlight, with the Gophers significantly outshot from three-point range. They connected on only two of 10 in the first half while enabling Augustana's Cody Schilling and Drae Murray, a transfer from D-I Sam Houston State, to score at will.
''We're still not shooting the ball well. "We've had a number of opportunities to knock down shots," coach Tubby Smith said, "and we just don't seem to have much of a rhythm."
They found it late Monday, and not a moment too soon.
After falling behind seven minutes into the first half, the Gophers didn't regain the lead until Mbakwe's free throw 1 1/2 minutes into the second.
Propelled by the senior forward, the Gophers were better in the final 20 minutes, holding the Vikings to 20 percent shooting in the half and getting threes by Austin Hollins and Julian Welch.
Mbakwe was the instigator, with 22 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and four assists while going 12-for-13 from the line.
"Last year, I didn't think I did a good job of being a good leader and stepping up down the stretch and I think that's where the better players show their true colors," Mbakwe said.
Elsewhere, progress was less evident.
A stellar team-wide mark at the free-throw line and continued dominance by Mbakwe were overshadowed by the sneaking observation that there simply wasn't much difference in the talent levels of the two teams.
With the exception of Chip Armelin, who scored seven points and kept the Gophers close in the first half, the second team continued to struggle on both sides of the ball.
Andre Hollins, again starting at the point, showed less conviction in his decisions. Welch, who missed the exhibition opener vs. Bemidji State because of a turned ankle, played late with the game on the line.
Smith and his players were satisfied with the finish. Rodney Williams, Ralph Sampson III and Mbakwe scored nine of the game's final 12 points, a down-the-stretch performance the team lacked last season.
"We were able to show we can fight back in the second half," Williams said. "I think everybody stayed strong, we locked down on defense and we came out with the W."