Minnesota cruises to 84-58 win over Montana

Andre Hollins had 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting to lead the Gophers’ rout.

Minnesota guard Maverick Ahanmisi drives the ball against Montana on Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Ichigo Takikawa

Minnesota guard Maverick Ahanmisi drives the ball against Montana on Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Jace Frederick

Gophers head coach Richard Pitino told junior guard Andre Hollins to be more aggressive this season.

Apparently, he took it to heart.

Hollins finished with 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting, and the Gophers defeated Montana 84-58 on Tuesday night at Williams Arena.

Hollins said he placed more of the scoring load on his shoulders this season after the departures of Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe in the offseason,

“I’m looked upon to score,” Hollins said. “I’m always looking to score.”

The Gophers were dominant on the glass for the first time this season against the Grizzlies. Minnesota won the battle of the boards 45-29 in the game.

Austin Hollins — a 6-foot-4-inch guard — led the team with a career-high 10 boards. He was forced to play power forward on multiple occasions due to foul trouble in the frontcourt.

“I have to be better on the boards. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on,” Hollins said. “It’s just been a mindset all season.”

In this game, the guards provided much of the scoring punch after the big men were the story of the season opener.

Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu combined to score 50 points.

“If we can get those three guys to continue to elevate their games, I think we’ll be a tough team to guard, especially out on the perimeter,” Pitino said.

The Gophers were the clear aggressor all night, and it showed at the charity stripe. Minnesota went 19-for-28 from the free-throw line.

Minnesota also stymied Montana’s three-point attack. The Grizzlies shot about 27 percent from deep on Tuesday while the Gophers hit on 44 percent.

Seven Gophers players hit three-pointers.

“I don’t think there’s any guy on the team that can’t shoot the ball,” Pitino said. “I do believe we are a very good shooting team.”

Minnesota jumped out to a 16-5 lead on the strength of three Andre Hollins triples. The Gophers took a 40-26 lead into the locker room.

Minnesota didn’t let off the gas in the second half and outscored Montana 44-32 in the final 20 minutes, capping a complete performance from the team.

Pitino was concerned about the matchup with the Grizzlies heading into the game but was happy with his team’s performance. Montana has qualified for back-to-back NCAA tournaments.

“I thought our guys did a really good job of just handling their business and being really professional about this game,” he said.

Pitino said the next test is to see if his guys can handle a hostile road environment. He’ll get some answers when they travel to Richmond on Saturday.

“We’ll learn more about this team [then],” he said.