Styles clash as Hollins, Gophers quiet UCLA’s Wear in rout

Andrew Krammer

A day before the 11-seeded Gophers tipped off against six-seed UCLA, Bruins forward Travis Wear wasn’t as fixated in promoting his own team as he was downplaying Minnesota’s chances.

“They don’t shoot the ball very well,” Wear said on Thursday. “They give you a lot of misses.”

Wear, who finished with four points, five rebounds and four fouls, learned a valuable lesson in the 20-point loss on Friday.

Talk is cheap.

Minnesota, a team with admittedly shaky confidence, doesn’t chatter like UCLA’s Wear does. Their chests don’t puff out when faced with an elimination game.

Like their rodent mascot, the Gophers keep digging when the season is on the line.

Wins against Wisconsin and Indiana in the Big Ten ultimately saved their NCAA Tournament chances – along with coach Tubby Smith’s job – and Friday’s drubbing of the Bruins continued their roll.

UCLA had one chance in the second half, when guard Norman Powell’s three-pointer cut the Gophers’ lead to five with 15 minutes left.

Andre Hollins, who scored 28 points on 16 shots, responded with back-to-back three-pointers. Minnesota’s lead never dipped under eight points after that.

“That just sucks,” is all Wear said afterwards regarding Hollins’ heroics.

If it’s one thing Minnesota does consistently well – it’s shutting out the noise.

Good or bad, Smith and his players don’t dance anymore like they did after the Feb. 14 win over Wisconsin. They don’t care about seeding, the pedigree of their opponent or what the media has to say about their inconsistent play.

“Everybody in this locker room knew what we were capable of,” senior Rodney Williams said Friday after the Gophers first (official) NCAA Tournament victory since 1990.

They just didn’t have to say it.