Page last updated on Sun Nov 29 05:34:32 EST 2015
01/29/2013 11:54 PM EST
Williams, Minnesota bounce back vs. Nebraska
MINNESOTA 84, NEBRASKA 65
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Basketball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Their confidence shaken and their record
bruised by the rugged Big Ten, Rodney Williams and the Minnesota
Golden Gophers badly needed a breather.
Nebraska's arrival couldn't have come at a better time.
Williams snapped out of a funk to score 23 points and No. 23
Minnesota got a much-needed confidence boost with an 84-65
victory over Nebraska on Tuesday night.
"There's definitely relief," said Williams, who was 8 of 13 from
the field. "When you lose four in a row and come home to play,
you have to protect home court. For us to do it in impressive
fashion like we did, I think it's a big confidence builder."
Andre Hollins scored 14 points and Austin Hollins had 13 points
and five assists for the Golden Gophers (16-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who
snapped the four-game losing skid that caused them to plummet in
"Our psyche was shaken pretty bad," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith
said. "I thought we really had just shot ourselves in the foot
in every loss we've had. Tonight we did a better job."
Ray Gallegos scored 30 points for Nebraska (11-11, 2-7), which
committed 13 turnovers to offset some impressive shooting. The
Huskers shot 54.5 percent for the game, but were outrebounded
36-19 and forced just six turnovers by Minnesota.
Gallegos, who made 12 of 17 shots including six 3-pointers,
didn't get much help. Brandon Ubel scored 13 points and Shavon
Shields had 10.
The Gophers started the season 15-1, with the only loss to Duke.
Expectations started to swell as the victories piled up, and
they climbed to No. 8 in the AP Top 25 before they hit the
skids. Losses to Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin
threatened to spoil things as the Gophers followed a familiar
script under Smith.
Three years ago, the Gophers lost six of eight games in Big Ten
play. Two years ago they went a stretch of 10 losses in 11 games
and last season they dropped the final six games. During their
latest swoon, Smith seemed to anger some players, Williams
included, with his blunt assessment of their failings after
Williams scored just two points in the loss to Wisconsin last
weekend continuing a troubling slump for the athletic power
forward. He scored eight of the team's first nine points against
overmatched Nebraska, throwing down two dunks in the process to
get the Gophers rolling.
"When he dunked on the first possession, I thought to myself,
`Uh oh, here we go,"' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "Looks like
the gut feeling was right. He was outstanding."
After a brief rest, Williams didn't stop. He kept attacking the
overwhelmed Cornhuskers, even adding a rare 3-pointer to the
mix. It was an encouraging sign for the Gophers, who desperately
need their high flyer to get back to the difference-maker he was
during the nonconference portion of the schedule if they want to
get back into the hunt. But dominating lesser competition has
never been an issue for Williams. He's always been able to use
his superior athleticism to leap overwhelm them.
It's when the Gophers are going toe-to-toe with bigger, more
physical opponents that Williams tends to disappear. He combined
for nine points in two losses to the Badgers and Northwestern
last week, going 3 for 17 from the field and finding it
difficult to get to the basket for easy dunks.
"We did some things today to try to get him some freedom to come
out and move a bit more," Smith said. "He's been going up
against some pretty big guys. Tonight he didn't have to do that.
They didn't really muscle him. ... He's capable of doing that
all the time. That's my expectations of Rodney."
The Huskers did their best to make a game of it, shooting 64
percent in the first half. Gallegos scored 20 points, hitting
four 3-pointers, and Nebraska got back in the game when Smith
subbed out all five starters midway through the first half.
But the Huskers turnovers made it difficult for Miles to slow
down the pace, a strategy that Northwestern and Wisconsin used
to great success against the Gophers. Williams' final soaring
dunk gave the Gophers a 73-53 lead with 5:05 to go.
"Lord knows we've had enough negatives over the last two weeks,"
Smith said. "Enough garbage. But garbage in, garbage out."
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