Blowout No. 2 for Gophers, yet concerns still present

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2012 - 6:03 AM

A sloppy second half vs. Toledo left the Gophers a little bit flustered following a dominating beginning.

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The Gophers men's basketball team notched a second consecutive blowout Monday, but showed as much as anything the work it still has to do.

In the score, the 82-56 victory over Toledo, was persuasive.

But in reality, the Gophers turned in a mixed bag of results. They started very strong and did enough throughout to never be threatened. But a lukewarm second half exposed some lingering concerns.

"I think we lost a little bit of our focus there in the second half, but we finished the right way," coach Tubby Smith said.

They did, in that the Gophers (2-0) finished with a huge rebounding advantage (51-27), a decent night from behind the arc (35.7 percent) and three players in doublefigures, including solid all-around performances by Austin Hollins (13 points, five rebounds) and Rodney Williams (12 points, eight rebounds).

They showed enough of the energy and defensive pressure that they exhibited in Friday's season opener against American to pound the Rockets into an early deficit, and then cruised to a comfortable victory, despite a second half that lacked the same intensity.

But that wasn't the entire story.

After Hollins grabbed the reins once more and helped push the Gophers to a quick 12-0 lead, Minnesota piled on to lead 48-22 at halftime. Toledo -- which found some good looks but watched them rim out -- helped out plenty, posting a 6.7 percent shooting percentage nine minutes into play.

But in the second half, the Gophers came out looking a little lethargic and struggled to get in the same rhythm.

The perimeter game, which looked stellar at the start of the first half as the Gophers made four three-pointers, faded in the second half when the Gophers went 1-for-6 from outside.

Worse were the careless mistakes that caused the team to get out of its defensive flow and enabled Toledo (0-2) to go on a 15-4 run.

"The environment, the energy of the whole game went down," sophomore guard Joe Coleman said.

Coleman had 15 points, but he also committed eight of the Gophers' 19 turnovers and was taken off his man -- Rian Pearson -- in the second half after the Rockets guard scored 18 points on him.

"He tries to go to fast," Smith said of Coleman. "He plays with aggression. We don't want to take that out of him, we just have to teach him to jump stop, pass with two hands ... and he was going so fast, he couldn't get the ball to [his teammates]."

Still, the Gophers held on well enough to avoid anything close to a scare. The result was another lopsided victory heading into Thursday's home game against Tennessee State.

"We're all still kind of gelling," Trevor Mbakwe said. "It's been five, six months since our last game and we're still re-learning each other and where to be on the court."

  • GOPHERS 80, TOLEDO 56 Up next: 7 p.m. Thursday vs. Tennessee State • Williams Arena • No TV or radio

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