It was a humbling night for the Minnesota men’s basketball team Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla.
With the senior trio of guard Lawrence McKenzie, forward Dan Coleman and center Spencer Tollackson struggling to find their games, the Gophers suffered their first loss of the season, falling 75-61 to Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Center in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Coach Tubby Smith has said repeatedly that for Minnesota to accomplish what it wants to this season, the team will have to rely on its three seniors to carry the scoring load, among many other responsibilities.
So it must come as no surprise to Smith and the Gophers that with the three seniors uncharacteristically taking a back seat in the scoring department, Minnesota saw its first three-game winning streak since 2005 snapped.
The three seniors combined for just 23 points – a handful of which came with the game already in the balance – on 9-of-33 shooting, a meager 27 percent. McKenzie went 3-of-11 from the field while Coleman went 4-of-14 and Tollackson 2-of-8 from the floor.
Despite a quiet night from the seniors, Minnesota (3-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) did, however, put up a valiant effort and hung around for awhile.
When Florida State raced to an 8-0 lead out of the gates it appeared the speedy and athletic Seminoles would make quick work of the Gophers.
However that was anything but the case.
A scrappy Minnesota team regained its composure when a blocked shot by sophomore forward Damian Johnson led to a Gophers fast break, which was eventually finished with a layup by junior center Jon Williams.
Minnesota built its lead to 22-18 midway through the first half, but a 20-10 run by the Seminoles, who forced the Gophers into 12 first-half turnovers, including a shot-clock violation and a five-second inbound violation, changed the momentum and put Florida State (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) up 38-32 at the half.
The Gophers were unable to get anything going to start the second half and could get no closer than their halftime deficit of six.
With the bounces going Florida State’s way and Minnesota going without a field goal for a five-minute stretch midway through the half, the Seminoles pulled away, leading by as many as 15.