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.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers postgame: Minnesota returns from Maui with strong defensive showing in victory over Florida State

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: December 4, 2013 - 1:39 AM

Read my game story on the 71-61 win over Florida State here.

Hey, maybe size doesn't matter after all.

The Gophers, at least, proved capable of overcoming a lack of it for one night -- going up against the much bigger Florida State and stifling the Seminoles defensively, coming out with a 71-61 victory.

After a tough three games in three days in Maui, coming back with a win over the hearty Seminoles on Tuesday was huge for the Gophers. Minnesota returned to Williams Arena in a strong way, capturing by far their biggest win of the season over a team that beat VCU and lost to No. 22 Michigan and No. 15 Florida by a combined three points.

"We knew coming in that this was going to be a big win for us," DeAndre Mathieu said. "We watch ESPN, we see them play and everybody talking about how good they are, how big they are so it’s a big win. Our first big win. We let Syracuse get off. It just feels good to get a quality win over a good team."

Mathieu's toughness at the end of the game was a big part of the Gophers pulling out what turned out to be a close game at the end after Minnesota's early second half 12-point lead shriveled away. With 1:48 to go the tiny guard landed a layup in heavy traffic and amongst the Seminoles bigs to stretch the Gophers' lead to six and push them to the finish line.

In a game that wasn't always pretty -- with 52 fouls called on the two teams combined and the contest drawing out to nearly 2.5 hours -- the Gophers took care of business. They overcame a lax shooting night (34 percent from the field) with stout defense, speeding up the Seminoles and forcing Florida State into 17 turnovers with their press while containing 7-footers Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo inside.

The Gophers were out-rebounded 36-32, a differential that's not too shabby considering Minnesota was smaller at almost every position.

"We controlled the game," Andre Hollins said. "We don’t let size count us out. We went to Syracuse, we were a couple plays away from pulling that game out. We just have to compete – that’s our style of basketball. Just being tough, boxing out, rebounding."

Other notes from the win:

  • Guard Maverick Ahanmisi lost most of a tooth after getting his head slammed into the floor going after a loose ball early in the second half. He should be getting some dental work done tomorrow.
  • Andre Hollins on the bevy of fouls called, which constantly threatened to interrupt the pace and had all the beat writers sniffling about deadline: "Some calls didn’t go our way with the guys just barreling into our players. But that’s how it goes sometimes and I like how we responded to that. We could have easily gotten frustrated and kind of let that momentum carry over to the floor. I liked how we got poised and we attacked them as well."
  • The Gophers' assist-to-turnover ratio (12-6) was solid tonight, getting back to the strong ball handling they've showed early and hinting that the 35 turnovers Minnesota had in the two games against Syracuse and Arkansas might be more of a rarity than a trend.
  • Austin Hollins had a couple of massive alley oops tonight, the second coming at the end of a 10-1 Gophers run to start the second half -- fed to him by Mathieu. "It’s easy," Mathieu said. "I just throw it up there and he goes and gets it."
  • The Gophers won the loose ball contest, 7-2.

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