Badgers fall to Gophers in OT
MINNEAPOLIS — Andre Hollins had a talk with the boss. Over lunch, coach Tubby Smith reminded his streaky sophomore point guard which shots the Gophers want and how they need him to run their offense.
One day later, Hollins made clear he was listening.
Hollins hit the go-ahead 3-pointer midway through overtime to finish with 21 points and lead Minnesota to a 58-53 victory over No. 20 Wisconsin on Thursday night, the third straight overtime game for the Badgers.
“We gutted this one out,” Hollins said.
Austin Hollins added 11 points for the Gophers (18-7, 6-6 Big Ten), who held the Badgers without a basket for 11 minutes until Jared Berggren’s putback with 10 seconds left in the extra period. Andre Hollins went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line over the final 18 seconds of overtime to seal it.
“He’s asked to do a lot. Handle the ball. Score for us. Defending the opposing team’s quickest player, usually,” Smith said. “He’s really growing up and doing a lot of good things. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Gophers avenged a 45-44 loss at Wisconsin last month when Rodney Williams, who had 10 points and five rebounds in this one, missed the back end of a 1-and-1 with 1.8 seconds left. Over these two games, Andre Hollins had 41 of Minnesota’s 102 points.
Sam Dekker scored 14 points and Ben Brust added 11 for the Badgers (17-8, 8-4). They were 7 for 28 from 3-point range, negating their 18 offensive rebounds, and scored a total of four points over the last 10-plus minutes of the game. They didn’t score for 8:48, a run that lasted well into overtime, and Ryan Evans missed all five free throws he took in that stretch.
“He just makes his free throws, we’re out of here. We’re on the plane already,” coach Bo Ryan said of Evans, whose season percentage fell to 40.3. “Come on. What am I going to do with the guy? You knew it was going to us one game. Hopefully not two.”
Mike Bruesewitz, the bushy-haired senior who grew up in Minnesota, had a hand in the loss, too. After missed a long 3-pointer, he drew a charge against Austin Hollins with 22.6 seconds left on the other end to get the ball back for the Badgers with a two-point lead. But on the inbounds play, he moved his feet and was called for a violation.
“My fault. Messed it up,” Bruesewitz said. “I knew I shouldn’t have moved.
The Gophers regained possession, Joe Coleman made both free throws with 17.4 seconds to tie it, and Traevon Jackson’s runner in the lane bricked off the back rim.
“It was our defensive pressure. It’s hard when you’re trying to make something happen and someone’s in your face,” Andre Hollins said of Bruesewitz’s blunder.
Hollins hit his big shot with 3:38 remaining to give the Gophers a 52-49 lead. Trevor Mbakwe, who grabbed two huge rebounds in the closing minutes, tacked on two free throws to stretch the lead to five with 1:32 left.
“They frustrate you a little bit, but we’re tough mentally,” Mbakwe said. “We knew that was going to be a grind-out game, just like it was in Madison.”
The Badgers were brimming with momentum, after beating then-No. 3 Michigan last weekend when Brust made a half-court shot to tie the game at the end of regulation. That came on the heels of the double-overtime win over Iowa. And not that long ago, they went to Indiana and came away with a five-point victory.
Cracking The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since mid-November, Wisconsin was in position to keep moving up and sweep rival Minnesota for the second straight season. But the Badgers, who didn’t trail until 13:48 remained in the game, blew an opportunity to break it open early. They smothered the Gophers over the first 10-plus minutes, allowing only four points and holding them scoreless for nearly 6½ minutes.
The pace was predictably slow and the score was expectedly low, as most games these Badgers play go, but the Gophers gave them a taste of their own medicine with some stingy defense of their own.
The Gophers needed to win this in the worst way, after losing six of their last eight games and falling into sixth place in the conference. Ranked as high as eighth in the AP poll just one month ago, they’ve found themselves with a lot of work to do down the stretch to secure that NCAA tournament spot.
Right before the half, the Gophers made their move. Austin Hollins soared into the lane to pull down a rebound of Coleman’s miss with one hand and flip a put-back in off the glass to cut the lead to five.
Andre Hollins followed with a stutter-step launch from the top of the key with 8 seconds left that brought Minnesota within 24-22.
“They wanted it. But we had to have it,” Smith said.