The team needs to prove that its victory over UCLA was more than just a one-game blip, and today’s game vs. Florida presents that chance.
AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Good Gophers showed up for their opening game of the NCAA tournament on Friday night, an 83-63 dismantling of the UCLA Bruins. We haven’t seen that Gophers team too often lately.
They replaced their alter ego, the Good Grief Gophers. We’ve seen a lot of that team.
“I know sometimes we’re frustrating to watch,” senior Trevor Mbakwe said.
You think? The Gophers marketing department should have stood at the doors of Williams Arena and passed out straitjackets before the season opener. This team drove fans batty, which is quite an accomplishment since heartbreak and dismay serve as a default setting for Gophers faithful.
This group is tough to figure out. Sometimes they play loose and confident. Other times they look tentative and lifeless. Some games they attack on offense and push the tempo. And some games they operate at a snail’s pace and stand around on offense.
They either play with great energy and joy or look as if they’re ready for the season to end.
“I wish I could tell why it goes like that,” senior Rodney Williams said.
“It’s hard to explain,” junior Austin Hollins added.
Their Jekyll and Hyde personality made it virtually impossible to predict which team would show up for the tournament. Their two-month slide and toothless finish to the regular season made them an enigma. They drew an 11th seed from the selection committee, but Vegas and national pundits made them favorites in their matchup against the Bruins.
The loss of UCLA’s second-leading scorer, Jordan Adams, to a broken foot contributed to that sudden surge of optimism, but it also indicated that people weren’t ready to close the book on the Gophers just yet.
“We were tired of losing,” Hollins said.
Well, that explanation works too. But now they must prove that their performance on Friday wasn’t just a one-game blip, that they didn’t just beat up on a UCLA team that looked disinterested and nonchalant and offered little resistance.
They face a much sterner test in No. 3 seed Florida on Sunday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. The Gators have terrific guards, skilled post players and an elite coach in Billy Donovan. And they smother opponents on defense, ranking third nationally in scoring defense (53.7 points).
The Gophers need to play better than they did on Friday in order to extend their season another week. But any assessment of their chances should focus on their mind-set as much as individual matchups. Which team will show up? The confident one or the one that looks tighter than a snare drum?
“We don’t want to give up wearing Gophers jerseys yet,” Mbakwe said. “When we’re throwing the first punch rather than on our heels, we’re a lot better team.”
They played with that urgency against the Bruins once they steadied themselves after a sluggish start. They embraced a blueprint that proved successful early in the season.
The Hollins tandem, Andre and Austin, made 9 of 14 three-pointers and combined for 44 points and 12 assists. Mbakwe and Elliott Eliason established an inside presence in the first half. And the Gophers found a desired tempo while also taking care of the ball (11 turnovers).
“We haven’t played well at all in a while,” coach Tubby Smith reminded, “so it was good to see our guys having fun, playing the right way, sharing the ball, taking care of the basketball.”
|Houston||0||1st Qtr 4:34|
|Minnesota||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Miami||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||12/8/13 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|NY Giants||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Carolina||12/8/13 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|New York||71||3rd Qtr 4:09|
|LA Clippers||25||2nd Qtr 7:35|
|NY Rangers||1||3rd Prd|
|San Jose||1||3rd Prd 19:51|
|Boston||1||2nd Prd 15:20|
|Ottawa||1||2nd Prd 7:53|
|Winnipeg||1||2nd Prd 9:22|
|NY Islanders||0||2nd Prd|
|West Virginia||56||2nd Half 4:42|
|Tenn Tech||65||2nd Half 5:43|
|Wright State||59||2nd Half 1:35|
|Rider||68||2nd Half 5:45|
|Long Island||74||2nd Half 3:52|
|Eastern Ky||60||2nd Half 3:57|
|TCU||65||2nd Half 1:27|
|NC Wesleyan||47||2nd Half 6:13|
|Florida A&M||30||1st Half 2:00|
|Dartmouth||21||1st Half 0:40|
|Marshall||26||1st Half 0:06|
|Ole Miss||8:00 PM|
|High Point||8:00 PM|
|South Dakota||8:05 PM|
|La Verne||9:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||9:00 PM|
|Carroll (MT)||9:00 PM|
|San Diego St||10:00 PM|
|(19) Louisville||10||2nd Qtr 0:03|
|Bowling Green||12/6/13 7:00 PM|
|(16) Northern Ill|
|(15) UCF||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(18) Oklahoma||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(6) Oklahoma State|
|Marshall||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|Memphis||12/7/13 12:00 PM|
|(23) Texas||12/7/13 2:30 PM|
|(5) Missouri||12/7/13 3:00 PM|
|So Florida||12/7/13 6:30 PM|
|(7) Stanford||12/7/13 6:45 PM|
|(11) Arizona State|
|(20) Duke||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Louisiana||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(2) Ohio State||12/7/13 7:17 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Utah State||12/7/13 9:00 PM|
|(24) Fresno State|
|Palm Beach Atlantic||48||FINAL|
|La Salle||70||2nd Half 0:25|
|William & Mary||57|
|Dayton||71||2nd Half 6:00|
|Clemson||62||2nd Half 3:51|
|Missouri State||61||2nd Half 0:04|
|Providence||75||2nd Half 0:37|
|UC Davis||37||2nd Half 1:38|
|(22) Syracuse||82||2nd Half 2:49|
|Long Island||57||2nd Half 1:30|
|NC State||54||2nd Half 11:19|
|Utah Valley U||31||2nd Half|
|Wichita State||46||2nd Half 11:40|
|Sam Houston St||30|
|Utah State||39||2nd Half|
|Boston College||27||2nd Half|
|TX-San Antonio||27||2nd Half 20:00|
|Texas State||18||2nd Half|
|Tenn Tech||49||1st Half 7:56|
|New Orleans||12||1st Half 3:45|
|Idaho State||28||2nd Half|
|Northern Ill||28||2nd Half|
|Loyola Marymount||8:00 PM|
|San Diego Christian||9:00 PM|
|Northern Ariz||9:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|St Marys-CA||9:00 PM|