A big thank you to Andre Hollins for leading the Gophers to a nice win in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. His 25 points was easily a career high but his answer for every Northwestern run in the final three minutes of overtime showed that he is developing into next year's go-to scorer.
In the overtime Northwestern made a lay-up to get to within a point, Dre Hollins answered nailing an open three putting Minnesota back up two possessions. Then with just over a minute left the Wildcats hit two free throws to get back to within one again, Hollins answered with a floater in the lane pushing the lead back to three and the Gophers closed it out from there.
Even after his breakout game as the game's leading scorer, Hollins gave a mature response when asked if he is turning into the team's "go-to scorer."
"It was just the opportunity to present itself where I had open shots and I just knocked them down, and I'm thankful my teammates passed me the ball. It's not just one person to go to. If you have an open shot, it's open. It's just everybody working together."
I am loving the future of Hollins as the Gopher's primary scorer. In fact tonight was the debut of the 2012-13 Gophers. Hollins, Hollins and Coleman in the backcourt with Eliason and Williams manning the paint. Even without the return of Mbakwe I expect this team to be better, Mbakwe's presence just raises expectations.
This was a gutty win by the Gophers. In the first half Northwestern hit 9 / 20 threes and fortunately Rodney Williams hit a deep (and rare) three to keep the deficit to just two at the half. But the Gophers came out in the second half with a more aggressive man-to-man. The man-to-man limited NU to just five three-point attempts in the second half and 33.3% overall shooting.
Northwestern coach, Bill Carmody...
"And then in the second half they guarded us harder, and I didn't think our offense flowed the way it should. And you give them credit. We weren't able to contain (Andre Hollins), and he made shots in the first half. And then the second half when they were coming back, he just took the ball to the rim and we didn't have an answer for him."
This loss was rather unfortunate for Northwestern who had hopes of finally shedding the label of being the only BCS team to never make the NCAA Tournament. Two tournament wins would have solidified their resume, one win over Minnesota may have been enough. This team beat every team that they were supposed to beat (except Minnesota twice) and had a nice resume win over Michigan State. But beating the teams below you and then playing a tough schedule that resulted in more losses isn't going to be enough for Carmody, Shurna and the rest of the Cats.
Minnesota moves on, Northwestern needs a minor miracle to get into the NCAA Tournament and both teams may get the opportunity to face each other again in the NIT. But first we get to see if we can continue our Big Ten Tournament run with a