Two weeks ago, Andre Hollins sat behind the bench with his former Gophers basketball teammates and friends watching the program’s biggest victory in nearly a decade unfold in the blowout over then-No. 3 Ohio State at the Barn.
Hollins, who starred for Minnesota from 2011-15, has the best single-game performance for the Gophers in the last four decades, but he was also in attendance for sophomore Marcus Carr’s memorable 35-point effort against the Buckeyes.
It was most points by a U player since Hollins exploded for 41 points in a win against his hometown program, Memphis, in the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas his sophomore year in 2012.
“He’s the catalyst of the team,” Hollins said of Carr. “Everything goes through him. He runs it. They’re not very deep with experience. They’re really young, but they can, like Marcus says, compete with anyone in the country. They showed it.”
A big reason Hollins was in town goes back seven years ago the same season he became the first Gopher to score 40 points in a game since the 1970s.
In 2012, Hollins signed up to be a blood donor for Be the Match, the global leader in bone marrow transplants. It was during an event called “Hope Day” for Gophers athletes on campus.
The organization didn’t find a genetic match for Hollins until this summer. The 27-year-old Memphis native returned to Minneapolis this month for them to retrieve his stem cell donation a couple days after the Gophers defeated Ohio State on Dec. 15.
Hollins looked forward to the patient being strong enough physically to receive the marrow, which can help to battle blood cancers such as leukemia and sickle cell.
“It’s always good to be a blessing to someone and give back,” Hollins said. “And it was easy. [Be the Match] makes sure you have all the information. They take care of the flights and travel and get you to where you’re going. They make it really easy for the donor. Now, hopefully the patient is ready.”
Hollins most recently played a full basketball season in the Hungarian League in 2017-18 before taking a break to fully recover from a strained Achilles. He’s healthy now and waiting for another opportunity to continue his pro career overseas.
It all worked out for Hollins to watch a big win for his alma mater, spend the holidays with ex-teammates like Kendal Shell and Trevor Mbakwe and friend and ex-Gopher women’s star Rachel Banham (She has two of the best U hoops performance of the decade overall with her 60 points vs. Northwestern and 52 points vs. Michigan State in 2016). But most importantly, he got to help someone in need back in Minnesota.
“I always love to come back,” Hollins said. “That was an awesome game to come to. [A lot] of magic there.”
This year isn't officially the end of the decade, not until after 2020. But Hollins and Carr, who both played for Richard Pitino, had two of the biggest individual performances from 2010 until the present.
Here's my ranking of the top 10 Gophers men’s hoops performances since 2010. Let me know if I missed any of them.
TOP GOPHERS PERFORMANCES SINCE 2010
- Andre Hollins’ 41 points on 12 for 16 field goals and 12 for 13 free throws in 35 minutes in 84-75 win against No. 19 Memphis on Nov. 23, 2012 in the Bahamas (most points since Oliver Shannon in 1971).
- Marcus Carr’s 35 points on 12 for 17 field goals and 8 for 9 free throws, to go with seven assists in 38 minutes in an 84-71 win Dec. 15 vs. No. 3 Ohio State at Williams Arena.
- Amir Coffey 32 points on 8 for 15 field goals and 13 for 18 free throws with eight rebounds in 39 minutes in a 73-69 win March 5 vs. No. 11 Purdue on Senior Day (second straight 30-point game helped secure an NCAA tourney bid).
- Nate Mason 33 points on 11 for 19 field goals and 8 for 9 free throws and six assists in 40 minutes in an 86-82 win vs. Iowa on Senior Night on Feb. 21, 2018 (snapped a nine-game losing streak).
- Nate Mason 31 points on 11 for 18 field goals and 7 for 10 free throws and 11 assists in 38 minutes in 91-82 overtime win at No. 15 Purdue on Jan. 1, 2017.
NEXT FIVE: Gabe Kalscheur 34 points on 7 for 9 threes in Dec. 21 win vs. Oklahoma State, Jordan Murphy 35 points and 15 rebounds vs. USC Upstate in 2017-18 opener, Daniel Oturu 21 points and 20 rebounds in Dec. 28 win vs. Florida International (first Gopher 20-20 game since 1966), Austin Hollins 32 points with six threes and three steals in the NIT quarterfinal win vs. Southern Miss in his final home game in 2014 (Austin Hollins eventually named NIT Most Outstanding Player after leading the Gophers to NIT title), Amir Coffey 32 points on 8 for 16 field goals and 14 of 17 free throws with six rebounds and six assists in win Dec. 5 vs. No. 24 Nebraska (Win was dedicated to Dupree McBrayer's mother, Tayra McFarlane, who died earlier in the week).