Gophers capitalize on Wolters’ absence, light up Jackrabbits with hot shooting at home

Minnesota shot 57 percent from the field in an 88-64 win against South Dakota State, which played without star Nate Wolters.

Minnesota guard Joe Coleman (11) scores against South Dakota State on Tuesday night at Williams Arena.

Image by Ichigo Takikawa

Minnesota guard Joe Coleman (11) scores against South Dakota State on Tuesday night at Williams Arena.

by Andrew Krammer

South Dakota State didn’t come to play the Gophers as advertised Tuesday at Williams Arena.

In a potential point guard shootout, Gophers guard Andre Hollins fulfilled his end of the bargain. But Jackrabbits star and NBA prospect Nate Wolters was a game-time decision and did not play with an injured ankle.

No. 14 Minnesota set a season high in points as it routed SDSU 88-64 to improve to 9-1.

“I was glad to see our guys stayed focused and weren’t distracted by [Wolters not playing],” coach Tubby Smith said.

Without its All-American point guard, SDSU put up an early fight in front of an announced crowd of 10,213. The Jackrabbits tied the game at 10-10 five minutes into it.

But Hollins rattled off four three-pointers on four attempts to spark the Gophers to a 38-14 run to end the first half.

Minnesota’s guards shouldered the work behind Austin and Andre Hollins who combined for 9-for-14 from beyond the arc and 39 points.

Andre Hollins finished with a team-high 22 points, 20 of which came in the first half, while Austin Hollins finished with 17 points and team highs in assists (5) and steals (4).

“Two of the best young men I’ve ever had the good fortune to coach,” Smith said. “It makes it a lot more fun [to coach] ’cause you know those guys are going to do the right things.”

Andre Hollins finished with two assists and a season-best zero turnovers. He has looked comfortable as a shoot-first point guard and said that’ll likely remain his philosophy as the season progresses.

“At the end of the day, if I don’t have as many assists as you think a true point guard would have, that’s just your opinion,” Andre Hollins said.

The Gophers shot 57 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep after shooting just 1-for-13 from beyond the arc Saturday against North Florida.

“If I’m hot, coach is telling me to shoot the ball,” Andre Hollins said, “because we have great rebounders.”

Senior Rodney Williams ended his 18-game streak of double-digit scoring, finishing with more blocks (4) than points (2).

“I just couldn’t feel it today,” Williams said. “Everyone has those days — I guess today was mine.”

Minnesota fired on all cylinders as Trevor Mbakwe pushed around SDSU’s Jordan Dykstra and Tony Fiegen. Mbakwe finished with eight points and 10 rebounds in 14 minutes.

SDSU played a true freshman in place of the injured Wolters. Jake Bittle struggled throughout the game against Andre Hollins, committing a game-high seven turnovers with seven assists and five points.

Minnesota scored a season-high 88 points and turned the ball over 13 times against a soft Jackrabbits defense.