Slumping Gophers blown out again on the road

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2013 - 12:51 AM

Three days after losing by 21 points at Iowa, the floundering Gophers lost by 26 at Ohio State.

COLUMBUS, OHIO - Hit with the question, Andre Hollins paused for nine seconds.

He looked away from the team's bus, about to depart, and down Value City Arena's emptying innards, as if the answer to the Gophers' late-season struggles could be found somewhere along the concrete walls, mixed in with the piles of swept trash.

What is the difference?

What accounts for the transformation from a basketball team that finished games, that rose to the occasion, that was ranked No. 8 in the nation to one that has lost eight of its past 11 after Wednesday night's 71-45 loss to Ohio State.

"I guess our mental toughness," he said finally. "I guess that's the difference, just being mentally tough."

A team that was perhaps just as desperate for a victory, No. 18 Ohio State (19-7, 9-5 Big Ten) rebounded from a sluggish first half to run away from the Gophers (18-9, 6-8) quickly and efficiently in the second. The Gophers suffered a similar fate against Iowa on Sunday.

"We were the aggressive team tonight," said Deshaun Thomas, who had 19 points and three rebounds. "That's what you've got to do when a team is coming off of a loss like that -- keep punching them and punching them."

That the Buckeyes did. Most of the Gophers' starters didn't even put up a good fight, with just Hollins (11 points, eight rebounds) scoring more than five points, and Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman each putting up zeros.

After a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Aaron Craft gave the Buckeyes a six-point edge at the break, Ohio State pushed the tempo in the second. Having lost three of their past four, the Buckeyes stifled the Gophers with defensive pressure, forcing them into a season-high 24 turnovers.

The Gophers had managed to stay within striking distance in the first half despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, turning over the ball 10 times and watching Williams -- who started despite a gimpy left shoulder -- and Coleman both sit with two fouls within the game's first four minutes.

But any scrappiness quickly evaporated in the second. Powered by Thomas, Ohio State went on a 16-0 run that drove the Gophers -- who went scoreless for more than 10 minutes -- into a 53-31 hole.

"Once again, it was we just shot ourselves in the foot," said Oto Osenieks (10 points, five rebounds). "The pressure wasn't that big from them -- we've just got to take care of the ball."

As the minutes waned, coach Tubby Smith put out mostly reserves and sat on the bench, head cupped in his hand. Afterward, Hollins said no one spoke in the locker room as Smith spent extra time with his players, trying to make his message click.

"It was just quiet," Hollins said. "Coach was talking and there wasn't much we could say. ... We're just trying to figure out what's wrong."

It's a tough time to try to do so, with No. 1 Indiana just around the corner. But while the Gophers still look primed for an NCAA tournament berth based on their early-season success and strength of schedule, the longer a slide continues, the more it weighs on a team that has seen this happen each of the last three seasons, and that no longer knows where to look for answers.

"We're looking for the leadership within the team to step up," Smith said.

But the leadership, it seems, is lost.

  • (18) OHIO STATE 71, GOPHERS 45

    Up next: 6 p.m. Tuesday vs. (1) Indiana • Williams Arena • TV: ESPN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 4th Qtr 0:17
Philadelphia 88
Golden State 98 4th Qtr 8:50
Toronto 64
New York 77 4th Qtr 8:59
Detroit 76
Orlando 75 4th Qtr 5:21
Atlanta 83
Charlotte 93 4th Qtr 2:29
Boston 96
LA Clippers 51 3rd Qtr 7:32
Memphis 45
Brooklyn 65 3rd Qtr 6:00
Houston 65
Miami 66 3rd Qtr 6:05
New Orleans 65
Minnesota 56 3rd Qtr 5:56
Chicago 60
Utah 26 1st Qtr 1:25
Denver 14
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Portland
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 3rd Prd 2:59
Carolina 2
Chicago 0 3rd Prd 14:38
Tampa Bay 2
Colorado 0 2nd Prd 15:45
Dallas 1
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 42 2nd Half 7:04
Akron 53
Dartmouth 51 2nd Half 12:03
Columbia 48
Valparaiso 9:00 PM
Cleveland State
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 47 2nd Half 7:53
Arizona 41
Southern Ill 52 2nd Half 13:12
Bradley 50
Drake 34 2nd Half 12:07
Wichita State 55
Indiana State 58 2nd Half 3:57
Evansville 45
Illinois State 36 2nd Half 9:12
Loyola-Chicago 52
Northern Iowa 58 2nd Half 6:34
Missouri State 50
Utah 24 2nd Half
(10) Arizona State 18
Providence 26 2nd Half 20:00
Villanova 33
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close