Gophers show off their depth without injured Hollins

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 24, 2014 - 11:50 AM

A sprained left ankle should keep Andre Hollins out for Sunday’s game.

Only one minute into Wednesday night’s game, Gophers guard Andre Hollins found himself watching Minnesota-Wisconsin from the training room.

The junior severely sprained his left ankle landing on a defender’s foot when he came down from the Gophers’ first shot attempt 12 seconds into what became an 81-68 victory over their border rivals.

The next morning, X-rays showed no break. A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed a severe sprain, likely to keep Hollins out through at least the Gophers’ next game, at Nebraska on Sunday.

But while the potential absence of their leading scorer is certainly a hit, the Gophers proved in beating the No. 9 Badgers that they no longer have to rely on him in the same incapacitating way as they have in the past.

In fact, without him, the Gophers still managed to play their most efficient and best all-around game of the season, getting major contributions from Mo Walker, DeAndre Mathieu, Austin Hollins and Malik Smith, and scoring an incredible 1.40 points per possession.

“When things are clicking, it’s tough to overcome,” coach Richard Pitino said. “I think these guys truly believe that the whole is greater than the parts.”

That concept was on full display on Wednesday, revealing just how much more balanced this team is than a year ago, when the Gophers typically crumbled whenever Hollins wasn’t playing the hero. Of the nine Big Ten Conference games last year in which the Memphis native scored 13 points or fewer, the Gophers went only 2-7 — and the two victories were over Northwestern and Penn State, the worst two teams in the conference.

Now, the Gophers seem capable of withstanding such adversity, and if the Wisconsin game was any indication, perhaps they are ready to take the next step that could ultimately lead them to an NCAA tournament bid many believed unlikely when the season began.

They had led by at least eight points at some point in each one of their previous Big Ten games this season, yet they managed only a 3-3 record. Even in beating Purdue and Ohio State, they allowed their opponent back in the game from sizable deficits, forcing the Gophers to gut it out in the final seconds. The Gophers beat then-No. 11 Ohio State by 10 last week, but the Buckeyes were within three with 5:44 to go.

On Wednesday, even short a major playmaker, the Gophers held firm to their advantage. With 4:39 remaining, the Badgers pulled within seven, the time to make the momentum flip if it ever would.

The Gophers responded, getting consecutive layups from Smith and Joey King to push their lead back to 11.

“It was a big emphasis,” center Elliott Eliason said, remembering well the Gophers’ 10-point lead that slipped away in their previous game against Iowa, which eventually won by 21. “We can’t take our foot off the gas at all when we have a lead. … Iowa, it was a bitter pill, but probably one we had to take. We were pretty high on ourselves after the Ohio State game and we got our butts kicked on the road by Iowa. Hopefully we can stay humble over this next stretch.”

The Gophers now have two conference victories over ranked teams, and NCAA tournament prognosticators have them safely in the field of 68. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projected them as a No. 9 seed in his updated bracket Thursday.

And on Sunday, when in all probability Andre Hollins hobbles to the bench before the opening tip against the Cornhuskers, he will have the luxury of cheering on a team that has developed to function competently without him.

“Of course I wanted to be out there with my teammates, but at the same time, I trust them, I believe in them, I go to battle with them every day,” he said. “So I wasn’t worried when I went out.”

The Gophers are not solely the Andre Hollins Team anymore. And they are only now beginning to realize how meaningful that is.

  • related content

  • Hartman: Pitino making most of Gophers' mix of players

    Friday January 24, 2014

    He brought in key transfers and has coaxed surprising performances from several players on last season’s team.

  • Minnesota guard Andre Hollins (1) went to the floor with an ankle injury in the opening moments of the game against Wisconsin.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close