The Gopher's NCAA Tournament and season ended with a loss to Florida on Sunday evening as Florida proved too much too handle on both ends of the floor. The Gators sprinted out in the first half rising Rosario's hot hand and held a 21 point lead at the break. The Gophers fought back, quickly cutting the lead down to 7, but they were unable to overcome the deficit and it ended in a 78-64 loss.
Looking at the box score, things didn't look too bad for the Gophers. If I would have told you the following, I think we all would have believed that this would either be a close loss or a even a Gopher win.
- We out-rebounded Florida including a 13 to 6 offensive rebound advantage.
- Turnovers have been a huge problem all year but tonight they were even at 14 apiece.
- Andre Hollins stayed hot with a 23 point performance.
- The Gophers, as a team, shot 44.4% from three, making 8.
- We held Kenny Boyton to 7 and Patric Young to 5 point each, with 6 combined turnovers.
The problem was we could not stop the rest of Florida. We shot 44% from three, they shot 50%. Andre Hollins scored 25 on 6/10 three-point shooting, Mike Rosario scored 25 on 6/9 shooting from three. Rosario and Erik Murphy hit open three after open three in the first 20 minutes building an insurmountable lead. Down 21 at half is really hard to come back from, particularly when you are up against a 3-seed that is playing like a Final Four caliber team.
Andre Hollins did his best to get the Gophers back into this game. They started playing some defense and clawed their way back to a 7 point deficit. That was as close as they'd get. The end result wasn't all that unexpected and what comes next is what is going to be the most interesting.
To go along with some decisions that need to be made about the coaching staff, the program also has to be concerned about next year's frontcourt. With the losses of Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram there are serious questions about what kind of forwards we'll have to go along with what should be a strong backcourt.
There are also a ton of questions to be answered about the future of the program and who should or will be leading it. The program is sort of at a cross-roads and there are a number of interesting questions to be answered. I don't necessarily mean fire Tubby or commit to Tubby, the program can go in an alternative direction even with Tubby remaining as the head coach. But those questions will be answered and decided another day.
For now the season is over. It started out surpassing all expectations that continued to rise. Then the most frustrating swoons hit and this team never seemed to get out of it for more than a game or two. There were some Big Ten highlights that included a passionate win over Michigan State to start the Big Ten season, a fun win at Illinois, a win over Wisconsin at home and a court storming win over #1 Indiana. Are those, plus a win in the NCAA Tournament, enough to overshadow a losing Big Ten record and losses to Northwestern, Nebraska and embarrassing losses at Iowa and Purdue? I don't know, this was a frustrating team that was very talented and could never seem to hit their stride when it mattered.