Least of the Big East gives Gophers tournament scare

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2011 - 11:25 AM

DePaul led by 12 before Rodney Williams helped fuel a comeback.

Junior forward Rodney Williams

ORLANDO - It was the kind of all-around performance -- and big-time play -- Gophers fans have grown accustomed to seeing from Trevor Mbakwe.

But for Rodney Williams? It was the kind of performance everyone associated with the Gophers has been waiting to see -- and wanting to see often.

The Gophers men's basketball team needed every bit of what both had to offer to squeeze out an 86-85 victory over DePaul on Thursday in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic.

Mbakwe, playing with four fouls, took a key charge in the final minute with the Gophers clinging to a one-point lead. And after two missed free throws by Julian Welch, Williams delivered a clutch putback layup for the final two of his career-high 18 points. DePaul made a meaningless two-pointer after missing a three-pointer that would have tied the score, providing the final margin.

Mbakwe finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds on a coolly efficient 6-for-7 shooting day from the field. But it was Williams' performance, which included four dunks -- two of them thunderous, in-the-flow-of-offense game-changers -- that likely kept the Gophers (5-0) from their first loss of the season.

"I'm being aggressive all the time instead of just in spurts," Williams said.

Williams was 7-for-9 from the field and had nine points in each half -- none bigger than the last two for the Gophers, who trailed by 12 points in the second half. Williams added five rebounds, two assists and two steals in what might have been a breakout performance for the junior who tantalized with flashes of talent and athleticism during his first two seasons.

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said he was surprised by Williams' production but noted the tempo was suited to his skills.

"This is his kind of game," Purnell said. "When we're pressing up and down the floor, there are going to be some open-court situations."

Before anyone gets too excited, consider: DePaul was a combined 2-52 in Big East games over the past three years and was picked by conference coaches in the preseason to again be the worst of the league's 16 teams.

That said, the Blue Demons came in 2-0 and look to be at least somewhat improved. They harassed the Gophers into 11 first-half turnovers and made five of 10 threes before the break to take a 43-33 lead.

But with contributions from many sources, the Gophers rallied. Ralph Sampson, who missed Monday's game because of an ankle injury, started and chipped in eight points with four rebounds in 15 minutes. Ten different players played double-digit minutes, including all five in the crunch-time lineup of Mbakwe, Williams, Austin Hollins (11 points), Julian Welch (11 points) and Chip Armelin (six points). Their quickness helped limit DePaul to 1-for-9 three-point shooting after the break.

"Everybody contributed positively to us winning the game," Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. "Whoever is playing well at that particular time, that's who I usually go with."

Count Mbakwe among those hoping to see more strong play from Williams.

"We have to have this performance from him every night," Mbakwe said. "He definitely helped us win this game, and I don't know where we would have been without him."

  • related content

  • Gophers-DePaul game recap

    Thursday November 24, 2011

    He scored a career-high 18 points, including four thunderous dunks and a key putback late that helped seal the victory.

  • Gophers-Indiana State game preview

    Thursday November 24, 2011

    Gophers update: It wasn't easy, but the Gophers (5-0) advanced to the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic with an 86-85 victory over DePaul on Thanksgiving. Rodney Williams led the...

  • OLD SPICE CLASSIC GOPHERS 86, DEPAUL 85

    Up next: 11 a.m. Friday vs. Indiana State (semifinals) • TV: ESPN (1500ESPN)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 93 4th Qtr 4:40
Denver 93
Oklahoma City 34 2nd Qtr 5:19
LA Lakers 38
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 3rd Prd 5:04
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 40 2nd Half 14:25
California 42
Idaho State 34 2nd Half 11:49
Utah State 41
Arizona 15 1st Half 14:02
Texas-El Paso 2
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
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
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 47 2nd Half 16:07
New Mexico St 29
No Dakota State 53 2nd Half 13:24
Cal State Fullerton 60
Utah State 62 2nd Half 10:12
Sacramento St 76
Bethesda (CA) 39 2nd Half 14:25
Fresno State 45
Utah Valley U 32 2nd Half 9:12
Montana 54
LSU 32 2nd Half
UC Santa Barbara 24
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football 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 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close