MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andre Hollins has used the nonconference season to signal Minnesota’s opponents that if he’s healthy, he’s still one of the most dynamic scorers in the Big Ten.
Hollins scored 24 points as Minnesota defeated Southern 85-57 on Wednesday night.
Mo Walker and Carlos Morris each scored 11 points while DeAndre Mathieu added 10 points and five assists for the Gophers (8-2), who shot 54.7 percent from the field and led by as many as 37 points in the second half.
Much of that success was due to Hollins, who hit 9 of 11 shots from the floor, including a 5-for-7 night from beyond the arc. Just a week removed from a 27-point effort at Wake Forest, Hollins is showing he has recovered from a severe ankle injury that slowed him the last two months of last season. He’s worked especially well with Mathieu, his running mate in the backcourt who has 15 assists and just two turnovers the past two games.
“It’s just chemistry. The injury hampered me last year, so that was a hard thing to do,” Hollins said. “I couldn’t move as well. This year we’re comfortable, and we’re jelling like we were at the beginning of last year.”
Adrian Rodgers led the Jaguars (2-7) with 18 points, while Trelun Banks added 15 and Tre Lynch chipped in 10. Southern shot 40 percent from the field but did post a season-high 10 team steals.
“We’ve got to forget about this one,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “We’ll watch this tomorrow, try to get better and then we’ll go out and start preparing.”
The Jaguars hit three of their first four shots and took a quick 6-3 lead, but then Minnesota’s pressure defense went to work. Southern missed its next six field-goal attempts as the Gophers went on a 12-0 run to take charge. Hollins knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the run.
“I’ve got to give him credit, he’s better than on film. He can flat out shoot the basketball,” Banks said. “I didn’t know he created his shots as well as he does.”
Two nights after they shot 60 percent in a win over North Dakota, the Gophers lit it up again in the first half, hitting 17 of 25 shots (68 percent). Hollins was 5 for 6 from the floor with three 3-pointers.
“The shot selection’s gotten a lot better the last couple games,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I think we can be a very efficient offense.”
Southern is the defending Southwest Athletic Conference regular-season champion but the Jaguars lost five of their top seven scorers. That talent disparity was evident against the Gophers, who were especially dominant inside. Minnesota’s senior centers Walker and Elliott Eliason combined to go 7 for 7 in the paint.
Southern: Last Dec. 30, the Jaguars set an NCAA record by taking a 44-0 lead against Champion Baptist College. Southern gets a rematch with Champion Baptist on Tuesday.
Minnesota: The Gophers have scored 80 or more points in four straight games, their longest stretch since December 2009.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Minneapolis North high school assistant coach Trent Witz and a few players paid a visit to Banks outside the visitors’ locker room. When he greeted them, Banks asked the group if any of them was ready to play. Immediately. “We could use all the help we can get.”
Southern: The Jaguars play at Iowa State on Sunday.
Minnesota: The Gophers have a nine-day break for finals, then host Seattle University on Dec. 19.
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