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.

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Mbakwe: Every game "I'm able to do more and more."

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: November 25, 2012 - 8:52 AM

We’ve all been waiting for it: the point when Trevor Mbakwe dominates a game and shows us that he’s still capable of being, well, Mbakwe.

And that came Saturday, in the Gophers’ second-most important game of the year. Mbakwe – who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes -- was huge in pushing Minnesota past Stanford on the final day of play in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and that allowed the Gophers to count the trip a major victory.

“I think every game I can kind of tell a difference, I’m able to do more and more,” he said after. “Obviously I want to rush back to being as aggressive and as explosive as I used to be, but I just have to be smart in the way I play and just take it game by game.”

Said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins: “He was impressive. I thought he had a presence on the floor. He rebounded well, he scored around the basket. I think he’s going to give them the added dimension they’ve were missing last year.”

That’s certainly what the Gophers are hoping. After losing to Duke in the opening round of the tournament, it became clear that this squad might need more offensive production to hang with truly elite teams.

They got that from Andre Hollins in a big way on Friday, and on Saturday, it was Mbakwe’s turn to go off.

With the Gophers down by four 5.5 minutes in, Mbakwe entered the game and quickly grabbed a tough rebound and hit a jumper. Then, with Minnesota trailing 31-27, the sixth-year senior converted a layup and then after Austin Hollins and Mo Walker combined for 1-for-4 free throw shooting, another to tie the game at 32 going into the half.

In the second, Mbakwe was just as clutch down the stretch, recording eight points in the final five minutes of the game. Mbakwe went 5-for-6 from the line overall.

“That’s just the way I have to play to help this team,” he said. “Make plays on defense and play with energy. I think that’s one of the gotten me to where I am right now in my career and that’s what coach expects of me. I’ve just got to play hard and all times and take advantage of opportunities when I’m out there.”

Getting a game like that from Mbakwe after Rodney Williams had gotten himself into foul trouble was huge. And many Gophers fans are hoping that will help convince coach Tubby Smith to continue to give the big man big minutes – and maybe even get a starting spot. Smith has said he sees “no reason” to insert Mbakwe in the starting lineup considering the chemistry with his current five, but heading into Florida State could be the time to tinker.

“He’s showing a lot of stamina,” Smith said. “Trevor’s got great energy. He always plays with energy and toughness.

“I’ve been impressed with how he’s gotten better. Just the shooting percentages, his free throw shooting, things he’s done extremely well in this tournament. That’s been very helpful, and it’s helped us win these two games.”


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Portland 6:00 PM
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Boston 7:00 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Washington 9:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Binghamton 6:00 PM
American Univ 6:00 PM
Elon 6:00 PM
Wright State 6:00 PM
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Rice 7:00 PM
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Kansas 8:00 PM
Oregon 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 6:00 PM
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Memphis 6:00 PM
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Fordham 6:00 PM
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
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