More than two years later, Gophers react different to a star going down.

Jace Frederick

It was Nov. 27, 2011. The Gophers were in the Old Spice Classic final against Dayton.

Minnesota trailed 45-36 to the Flyers when the unimaginable happened. Star senior forward Trevor Mbakwe went down with a knee injury. He had to be helped off of the court and did not return (As most of you well know, Mbakwe tore his ACL on that play and didn't return that season, but for this story that detail is irrelevant).

The Gophers only competition for the rest of that game was to see how fast they could end it. Minnesota threw in the towel from that point forward and coasted to a 16-point defeat.

Elliott Eliason remembers it. 

"We just collapsed [against Dayton]"," Eliason said.

It was clearly different on Wednesday night in Minnesota's 81-68 win over Wisconsin. Star guard Andre Hollins went down 16 seconds into the game and didn't return. The Gophers didn't skip a beat. 

"As soon as [the injury] happened, we all looked at each other and were like 'focus, keep your focus,'" Eliason said. "And I think everyone contributed with what they could."

It was the most-balanced effort the Gophers have  had all season as everyone chipped in to to help replace the production from Minnesota's leading scorer. The list of contributions was long — so I'll let Mr. Eliason take care of it:

"Mo [Walker] got in there and he played his butt off. I just tried diving on loose balls, doing whatever I could. … Malik [Smith] hit big shots, Day-Day [McNeil] gave us great minutes, Mav gave us great minutes, Oto played well, Joey — everyone gave us something tonight."

Ok, so he didn't hit them all. He did forget DeAndre Mathieu — who dominated the second half on his way to 18 points, and Austin Hollins, who finished with 11 points and threw down a one-handed dunk that even head coach Richard Pitino said "blew the roof off" of Williams Arena, but still, his list wasn't bad.

But back to the story. The story of a group of guys all confident enough to step up when their leader went down.

"I think it has a lot to do with coach P," Eliason said. "He's really stressing 'we're better than the sum of our parts.' Just in practice and what he preaches before the game is what you see I think on the court."

This year's Gophers squad, the 2013-14 edition, seems set on the fact that one guy doesn't make the difference between wins and losses, success and failure.

"It's a team sport," Austin Hollins said. "We can do anything when we play together."