Gophers outpace Omaha in high-scoring affair

by Jace Frederick


Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins are the faces off the Gophers backcourt — they have been for the last three years.
But it was a different tandem of Gophers guards running the court at Williams Arena on Friday night.
Senior Malik Smith and junior DeAndre Mathieu combined for 46 points as the Gophers ran past Nebraska-Omaha 92-79.
“Those two guys on this team, they’re fearless,” Gophers head coach Richard Pitino said. 
Smith showed his fearlessness in the second half. He hit a three off the bounce that left Pitino shaking his head. That triple sparked a run of 13 consecutive points from Smith en route to finishing with a career high 19.
The FIU transfer said the run reminded him of his days with the Panthers when he would often take over.
“Coach told me to be aggressive and pretty much go in there and don't hold back,” Smith said. “My main focus was being aggressive.”
Mathieu responded to Smith’s run by scoring nine of the Gophers next 11 points. He finished with a career-high 27 points to go along with four assists and zero turnovers.
“Opportunities came in transition [and the] half court to get easy looks in the lane, so I scored today,” Mathieu said.
Even with Mathieu and Smith stealing the show, the Hollins’ boys still had their moments.
Andre Hollins scored his 1000th points in the first half — one game after Austin Hollins reached the plateau.
Andre Hollins went on to score 18 points and added 10 rebounds for what he said was his first double-double since high school.
“I'm going to be more excited about the double-double than the 1,000 points,” Hollins said. “It was a good night. I think I played well.”
The Gophers prolific guard play on the offense end counteracted a scorching first half from the Mavericks.
Nebraska-Omaha connected on 10 of 16 from beyond the arc in the first half as the game was tied at 44-44 heading into the locker room.
Of the Mavericks 44 first-half points, two came in the paint.
“Ten threes in the first half is kind of crazy. And they were making some tough ones,” Mathieu said. “So we were kind of shocked, but it never hurt us, though.”
But the perimeter defense put the clamps on in the second half.  The Mavericks went 0 of 8 from deep in the final 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Gophers shot 55 percent from the field in the second half. Minnesota had five different players score in double figures, including junior center Elliott Eliason, who finished with 10 points, nine rebounds.
“He’s a very consistent player,” Pitino said. “It doesn’t always look pretty with him, but he’s very productive.”
Eliason had to carry the load up front as Minnesota’s other front court options (Maurice Walker, Joey King and Oto Osenieks) combined for just eight points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes.
The big man out of Nebraska also had four steals.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Pitino said. “I looked at it, and I thought it was a misprint.”