MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — These are the kind of games Minnesota can learn a lot from.
The good news for the Gophers is they pulled a victory from this lesson.
Andre Hollins helped Minnesota overcome a sluggish performance, scoring 19 points for the Gophers in an 82-72 victory over Coastal Carolina on Tuesday.
“We’ve just got to shore up a lot of things,” coach Richard Pitino said.
Hollins, the Big Ten’s leading scorer entering the night, scored eight straight for the Gophers (4-0) and followed that stretch with a fast-break assist on their final basket of the first half for a 39-33 lead. They forced the slippery Chanticleers into 20 turnovers but too often let them elude the full-court press.
DeAndre Mathieu scored 17 points with six assists, Austin Hollins added 15 points and Oto Osenieks had a career-high 13 points for the Gophers, who were outrebounded and outshot for most of the game but drew enough fouls down the stretch to pull away with free throws. They launched 17 shots from 3-point range in the first half and only made it to the foul line for three attempts.
“We fell in love with the 3,” said Andre Hollins, who is averaging 21.8 points per game. “They were going under screens. They were giving us a lot of open shots. But we should’ve attacked them.”
After holding their first three opponents to 22.4 shooting from 3-point range, the Gophers let the Chanticleers go 9 for 20 from behind the arc. Freshman Elijah Wilson led Coastal Carolina (1-3) with 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Colton Ray-St Cyr contributed 15 points and six assists, but he also had five turnovers.
“That was a tough test for us playing a big school like that. It’s going to be a learning experience for us,” said Wilson, who as a senior at Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C., matched Michael Jordan’s single-game scoring record with 42 points.
With half of the roster new to the program this year, the Chanticleers took defending Southeastern Conference champion Mississippi to the wire last week in losing at home 72-70. They lost to another NCAA tournament team, at Akron to open the season. Coach Cliff Ellis entered the fall with the 10th-most victories in the country among active coaches.
“In the end, 20 turnovers is not going to win games on the road. It’s just not going to do it,” Ellis said.
Elliott Eliason, who entered the night second in the Big Ten in rebounding, grabbed 11 boards but struggled at times against El Hadji Ndieguene, the only Coastal Carolina senior, a native of Senegal who is one of five international-born players on the roster. Eliason had eight points, three fouls and two turnovers but also had two blocks and two steals. Ndieguene finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Already thinned in the post with the departure of Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams, the Gophers had a scare when backup power forward Joey King banged heads with Andre Hollins going for a loose ball and walked off in a daze with what the team called a bruised jaw. King walked out of the locker room with a huge bag of ice pressed on his face.
Austin Hollins soared into the lane to grab a missed 3-pointer by Andre Hollins and dunk it with one hand in the same motion, lifting Minnesota to a 25-19 edge. The highlights beyond that were few and far between for the Gophers, who won their first three contests by an average 20-point margin.
“It was a lack of energy I think in the first half. I think we finally started to pick it up. We all know it wasn’t our best game, but that’s how we play,” Austin Hollins said.
Osenieks said he felt like the Gophers were losing when they went downstairs to the locker room at the break.
“They drove by our press. We just have to keep working on that,” Osenieks said.
Pitino said he was concerned about a mental letdown after scoring the final 19 points on the road against Richmond on Saturday to come home with a comfortable win. The Gophers played hard but left with plenty of homework — namely defensive communication and shot selection.
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