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Marcus R. Fuller / St. Paul Pioneer Press, Published February 16 2014

Gophers claim road victory over Northwestern in Big Ten men’s hoops

EVANSTON, Ill. – Minnesota coach Richard Pitino ended up making the coaching move of the game Sunday by sitting leading scorer Andre Hollins with 6 seconds left in the first half of a 55-48 win at Northwestern.

Pitino noticed that Hollins was fatigued.

So in came point guard DeAndre Mathieu to sink a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off a high ball screen to reduce the deficit to three points at halftime.

Genius, right?

“That was luck as a coach,” Pitino admitted. “He shot a 3. I wouldn’t have told him to do it. But he did. I think more than anything it helped (Mathieu), because he was down a little bit in the first half mentally.”

That was enough to spark Mathieu, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half to help the Gophers snap a five-game Big Ten road losing streak.

“The 3 kind of got my confidence going a little bit,” said Mathieu, who was 5 of 6 from the field in the second half. “Coach lit a fire under me at halftime. He’s good at getting me going even though he shouldn’t have to.”

Minnesota (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten) won its first game at Northwestern since 2008. It was critical to keep Pitino’s program on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Pitino lit into Mathieu and the rest of his players at halftime after they had committed 10 of their 17 turnovers.

Mathieu scored 10 of his team’s first 14 points in the second half.

“In that second half, he was aggressive off ball screens getting to the rim,” Pitino said. “He’s hard to guard when he gets going like that.”

But a one-man show wasn’t enough. Minnesota’s defense had to finish strong.

After Mathieu’s layup tied the score 39-39, JerShon Cobb nailed a jumper to give his team a two-point lead with 10:05 left.

Cobb had a game-high 23 points for the Wildcats, but he was held scoreless for the rest of the game after also getting into foul trouble.

Minnesota had arguably its best defensive team effort in Big Ten play, holding Drew Crawford 14 points under his average with just two on 1-for-15 shooting.

Pitino said freshman guard Daquein McNeil, Andre Hollins and senior guard Austin Hollins all helped in guarding Crawford and Cobb and trapping them throughout the game.

MINNESOTA (54): Jy.King 2-3 2-4 7, An.Hollins 2-7 2-3 8, D.Mathieu 7-10 3-5 18, Au.Hollins 2-5 0-0 6, Mu.Walker 3-7 2-4 8, D.McNeil 1-4 0-0 2, Eliason 2-2 0-0 4, Mi.Smith 0-1 1-2 1, Osenieks 0-2 0-0 0, Ahanmisi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-41 10-18 54.

NORTHWESTERN (48): D.Crawford 1-15 0-0 2, J.Cobb 8-13 2-2 23, Lumpkin 0-2 2-4 2, Olah 3-9 4-5 10, T.Demps 4-13 0-0 9, Abrahamson 0-1 2-3 2, Cerina 0-0 0-0 0, Sobolewski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-53 10-14 48.

Minnesota 25 29 — 54

Northwestern 28 20 — 48

3-Point Goals: Minnesota 6-13 (Au.Hollins 2-4, An.Hollins 2-4, Jy.King 1-1, D.Mathieu 1-1, D.McNeil 0-1, Osenieks 0-1, Mi.Smith 0-1), Northwestern 6-19 (J.Cobb 5-7, T.Demps 1-4, Abrahamson 0-1, Lumpkin 0-1, D.Crawford 0-6). Fouled out: D.Crawford. Rebounds: Minnesota 36 (Au.Hollins, Mu.Walker 6), Northwestern 30 (D.Crawford 11). Assists: Minnesota 7 (An.Hollins 3), Northwestern 9 (T.Demps 3). Total Fouls: Minnesota 17 (Mu.Walker 4), Northwestern 17 (D.Crawford 5). A—6,719.


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