Minnesota Knocks UCLA Out Of NCAA Tournament
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) –– Andre Hollins scored 28 points and Minnesota rolled past punchless UCLA 83-63 on Friday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament, a game that could be Bruins freshman Shabazz Muhammad’s last in college and coach Ben Howland’s final one leading the program.
Austin Hollins scored 16 for the 11th-seeded Gophers (21-12), who advanced to Sunday’s third round against No. 3 seed Florida in the South Regional. The Gophers eased some pressure on coach Tubby Smith by giving him his first NCAA tournament win in six seasons.
Another early-round exit by the sixth-seeded Bruins (25-10) won’t help Howland, who is facing public speculation back home about his future despite winning the Pac-12 regular-season title this year.
Muhammad, expected to leave for the NBA, led the Bruins with 20 points.
The 20-point blowout will be tough for Howland to bring back to Los Angeles. He led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours but hasn’t been back there since 2008 and hasn’t made it past the first weekend of the tournament since 2009. UCLA missed the tournament altogether last season.
Even the conference title was dampened, however, when Jordan Adams, whom Howland described as his team’s best all-around player, was lost to a broken ankle in the Pac-12 tournament.
The injury seemed to infect the entire UCLA offense and the Bruins never looked to have the fight to beat the Gophers, who delivered on their reputation as tough team molded by season-long battles in the Big Ten.
Smith had faced his own pressure from Minnesota fans. The Gophers started the season 15-1, then lost 11 of their final 16. Minnesota hadn’t won a game since March 2 but shook off that slump to thump the Bruins.
Minnesota shot 50 percent, with Andre and Austin Hollins knocking down a combined nine 3-pointers. The Gophers had seized control by halftime and never let go.
The Bruins clearly missed Adams.
UCLA looked disjointed and Muhammad — who missed all seven of his shots in the first half — seemed to get lost as his teammates looked for other options.
UCLA also got into foul trouble when forwards Travis Wear and Tony Parker both picked up three in the first half. That robbed the Bruins of some much-needed muscle under the basket against the physical Gophers.
Austin Hollins scored 11 in the first half and his third 3-pointer pushed the Gophers to a 33-19 lead. UCLA pulled to 35-25 by halftime.
Muhammad got more involved in the second with seven quick points and UCLA pulled within five when Norman Powell made a 3-pointer. The Gophers responded with consecutive 3-pointers from Andre Hollins from opposite corners to push the lead back to 11.
Every time UCLA made a move, the Gophers found a way to push the Bruins back and were never really in danger of losing the lead. UCLA’s last threat came when Muhammad scored four consecutive points, including a fast-break dunk that cut the lead to eight with about 9 minutes to play.
The Gophers responded with a 16-5 run — punctuated by Andre Hollins’ fourth 3-pointer — to make it 73-54.