The Gophers returned to Williams Arena on Tuesday night and defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 82-72, thanks to Andre Hollins, who pushed the team through another slow start to get Minnesota’s fourth victory of the season.
The junior Hollins scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half to lead the Gophers in scoring for the third straight game while also adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals in 34 minutes played. It’s fair to say Hollins carried the team on his back again as he had to score eight consecutive points and record a fast break assist in order to preserve a six point lead heading into halftime.
Minnesota’s other pointer guard, DeAndre Mathieu, also had a solid game, adding 17 points and six assists. Most importantly, however, Mathieu made 5-of-6 free throws, which was an improvement over his 0-of-3 performance in a win against Richmond on Saturday. Overall, the Gophers improved their free throw shooting against Coastal Carolina — against the Richmond Spiders, Minnesota converted 17-of-28 and against the Chanticleers, the Gophers shot 20-of-24.
Head coach Richard Pitino played all five of his starters for more than 30 minutes on Tuesday, but part of that was due to an injury to Joey King, who left in the second half after colliding with Hollins. The injury appears to be a bruised jaw and the sophomore forward was seen icing it after the game. He’ll get an x-ray on Wednesday to determine its severity but there’s optimism that it’s not a serious injury for the Drake transfer who’s averaging more than 10 points a game coming off the bench.
Truth be told, the Gophers nearly let themselves get upset by a mid-major team for the second straight game. With the Maui Invitational coming up next week with an opening round match up against Syracuse waiting for them in Hawaii, Pitino will need to whip his team into shape if they’re looking to be competitive against the ninth ranked Orange in a game that’s set for national television on ESPN2.
The Gophers will still have one more “practice” match up against Wofford on Thursday at Williams Arena.