On the first play of the game Andre Hollins hit an 18 footer, landed awkwardly on his ankle and was done for the game. Elliott Eliason sat for extended stretches. Maverick ran the offense with DeAndre Mathieu in foul trouble. Perhaps in some alternate universe this would have meant that the Gophers would have been blown out by Wisconsin. We don't live in that universe. The Gophers cruised to a 81-68 win thanks to the excellent play of Mo Walker and Mathieu. It was their most complete performance of the season. Minnesota had a 62.5% eFG, rebounded 43% of their misses, and were a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. There will be a more advanced stat breakdown later.
Let's talk about Mo Walker. His weight loss has been discussed ad nauseam, but tonight was the first time he played a complete game. And what a game it was. For an extended stretch of the first half, Mo Walker was the offense. He scored 12 straight points, and 14 total in the first half on his way to a 18 point, 9 rebound performance. He played aggressively and used his size and strength to pick apart any big that Wisconsin sent his way. He also dunked the ball twice. I'm honestly not sure if Walker could dunk last year. Mo was also excellent on the defensive end and used his newly acquired foot speed to stay with his man which forced the ball out of the paint. Wisconsin didn't shoot well in the first half in part because the Gophers were able to stay glued to shooters. Yes, Walker played against Wisconsin's back ups because Kaminsky sat for most of the first half, but he put the team on his back and deserves the game MVP. It was such a good performance that the student section snapped photos for posterity to prove to their grandchildren they had been at the game.
DeAndre Mathieu defies basketball physics. He takes shots from ridiculous angles, often at full speed, and I'm only surprised when they do not go in. Occasionally he over dribbles and gets into problematic situations, but that's part of the growth process. He also finished with three assists and five rebounds. That speed also gave Wisconsin fits when the Gophers ran high ball screens. Having a real PG is so fun you guys.
Malik Smith and Austin Hollins provided great leadership and quietly put up solid games. Malik even had three assists! That only one less than the number of threes he shot. Austin went 5-8 from the field for 11 points, with three assists and four steals. Oh right there was that other thing:
It's never a bad day when Wisconsin loses. Better Dead than Red. The Gophers are now 15-5 on the season and 4-3 in Big 10 play. They next play Nebraska on Sunday in Lincoln.
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