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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Gophers postgame: Keeping intensity from Indiana win was key in making it two vs. Penn State

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 4, 2013 - 10:18 AM

Check out my game story here. And notebook here.

In many ways, the Gophers’ game today vs. lowly Penn State was every bit as important as Tuesday’s win over No. 1 Indiana.

One could argue even more important.

For the win over the Hoosiers to mean anything, it has to be a part of something larger – Minnesota picking up the pieces and actually improving. They’ll likely get into the NCAA tournament regardless, but keeping the momentum heading there is another story.

No, Saturday’s matinee wasn’t exactly the most exciting game the Gophers have had all year, but it was critical in several ways:

They showed continuity after an emotional win: The Gophers didn’t come out flat. They didn’t take Penn State for granted. They focused on the fact that they would be veryVERY embarrassed if they had let this one slip. And in a game where both teams were subject to an emotional letdown, that role was all Penn State’s. Coach Tubby Smith had been vocal about his team’s propensity to get too high and too low with the year’s fluctuations – that the Gophers maintained their focus shows a real awareness on their part.

They kept their intensity, even after beating Penn State down quickly: I won’t make too much of this because the Nittany Lions actually played quite poorly. But the Gophers’ defense did have something to do with Penn State’s cold shooting. And after taking a 16-0 lead to start, it would have been easy to relax a little. The Gophers didn’t do that, keeping their own game at a high level throughout, even though they could have easily gotten away with a sloppier performance.

They gave the first hint that they may have actually improved in the turnover realm: Minnesota has held turnovers to ten in each of the last two games – not a easily dismissed statistic for a crew that has struggled with ball handling all year. The Gophers have had consecutive “good” turnover games before – against Wisconsin and Nebraska. Is this destined, like that streak to end or has something finally clicked with this team? Smith says he thinks the flex offense the Gophers are using is helping with that.

Trevor Mbakwe seems to have hit a new stride: Two games, two big performances, and the aggressiveness doesn’t seem to be fading. The sixth-year senior muscled in the paint for 13 points and 13 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the year. Again, yes, it’s Penn State, but considering that Mbakwe hadn’t had consecutive games scoring in double digits since mid January, it’s a good sign.

Shooting is going in an upward direction: After five consecutive games with shooting percentages in the 30s and 20s, the Gophers shots are finally falling. They still have plenty of room to improve from the outside (Minnesota shot just 29 percent from 3-point range, but 50 percent from the field), but the trend is still positive.

Other notes tonight’s 73-44 win:

  • Smith has been dealing with a sore throat for the past couple of days, and had a hoarse voice on Saturday. “I’m just a little bit under the weather today,” he said. “I need to go home and go to bed.”
  • Smith started all four seniors (Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Andre Ingram and Julian Welch) today to acknowledge senior day and got solid production from each. Welch hit a season highs in both points (10) and assists (7) and Andre Ingram scored more points (4) than he has since the Gophers third game of the Big Ten schedule, against Northwestern.
  • Said Smith on Welch: “It’s always tough when you’re a senior and a junior college transfer and the expectations were to play a lot more. But he showed a lot of character in stepping up today. I’ve got a lot more confidence in him now.”
  • Rodney Williams had a highlight-worthy dunk in the first half, taking a poorly tossed lob from Welch and snagging it with his left hand to throw it in the basket. The amount of time he stayed aloft to do so is just somewhat insane. Watch the replay of his alley-oop here.
  • Smith often doesn’t acknowledge dunks when we ask him about them afterwards, but the coach wouldn’t deny seeing this one. “I think he caught it with his left hand which was amazing, because he was going this way and reaching back,” Smith said, noting Williams was coming from the right, and the pass came to the left of the basket. “But Rodney, he’s spectacular when it comes to that stuff. He just has another gear that most athletes don’t have.”
  • Smith on senior day: “I tell them all the time about the relationships you build with your teammates, it’s not about the bricks and mortar all that, but the things that will sustain you for the rest of your life. I know I still talk to former players. They have a chance to leave a good legacy, 20 wins, they’ve been ranked high before, toughest schedule in the country. We’ll get into the playoffs and we’ll see how it goes.”
  • The student section started chanting “One more year” to Mbakwe in the last minutes of the game. The sixth-year senior laughed afterward. “I don’t know – I guess I’d have to sprain an ankle or something to get another year by the NCAA,” he said.
  • Mbakwe on his final appearance at the Barn: “It’s crazy looking back, thinking I started this at Marquette and I was able to finish off here in my hometown. It’s been special. I think everything happens for a reason. Obviously I had some tough things that happened, but I was able to bounce back and hopefully I’ll be able to finish the season and my career out on a high note.”



Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 1 1st Prd 7:02
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 6:48
Montreal 1
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 6:21
Ottawa 0
Dallas 1 1st Prd 2:11
NY Islanders 1
Detroit 1 1st Prd :33
Philadelphia 0
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Florida 8:00 PM
Washington 9:00 PM
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
Utah State 34
Temple 14 3rd Qtr 3:08
UCF 27
(15) Arizona 31 2nd Qtr 0:19
Washington St 16
Texas-El Paso 14 1st Qtr 1:21
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 0 1st Qtr 3:10
Colorado State 10
Syracuse 3 2nd Qtr
(21) Clemson 0
Texas State 0 2nd Qtr 15:00
(3) Ole Miss 0 1st Qtr 4:10
(24) LSU 0
(4) Alabama 6 1st Qtr 12:39
Tennessee 0
So Carolina 0 1st Qtr 13:10
(5) Auburn 0
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 1st Half 44:55
New England 0
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 7 1:00
Winnipeg 4
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
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Date/Opponent 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 TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




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