Minnesota hands Wisconsin third straight loss
Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Minnesota lost leading scorer Andre Hollins early with an ankle injury, but the Golden Gophers still had more than enough offensive firepower to down the suddenly struggling ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 81-68.
DeAndre Mathieu and Maurice Walker both scored 18 points, Malik Smith chipped in 14 and Austin Hollins added 11 with four steals for Minnesota (15-5, 4-3 Big Ten), which finished a tough stretch against four straight opponents ranked in the Top-15 with a respectable 2-2 record.
Wisconsin (16-3, 3-3), meanwhile, dropped its third in a row after opening the season with a school record 16 consecutive wins. The usually-defensive minded Badgers have given up 75-plus points in each of the three setbacks and allowed Minnesota to shoot 58.9 percent from the field on Wednesday.
Sam Dekker led the way with 20 points in a losing cause.
Andre Hollins, who came in averaging over 16 points per game, rolled his ankle while coming down on a jump shot on the opening possession.
"I was kind of worried at first because I could not move my (foot) initially," Andre Hollins said. "It was the result of all my weight coming down, and I rolled over on my ankle. We will just have to wait and see in the morning."
Despite the big loss, Minnesota led wire-to-wire.
The largest lead in the first half was eight, 26-18, following an Oto Osenieks tip-in with under eight minutes to play, and the Gophers brought a 34-28 advantage into the locker room.
Wisconsin matched Minnesota basket-for-basket in the early portion of the second half, but simply couldn't get any stops. Smith's 3-point play with 13 minutes remaining stretched the Gophers' lead to 49-37, and the Badgers were never seriously in contention from there.
Austin Hollins essentially put the game away with a thunderous dunk over Nigel Hayes with just under six minutes to play. A lapse on defense opened up the right side of the lane, and Hayes was too late on the help side as Hollins dunked over him before getting knocked to the ground.
The subsequent free throw gave the Gophers a 66-54 cushion, and it was all Minnesota from there.
"We have not had the post presence defensively," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Some of that is due to lack of foot speed, lack of recognition. The idea is, you can't give up one thing, go around and turn that off and then give up another thing."
Minnesota dominated inside, finishing with a 32-22 rebounding advantage ... Minnesota improved to 12-1 at home ... The Gophers made all 11 of their free throw attempts ... Hayes scored 12 points for Wisconsin, which shot 5-of-20 from behind the arc.
01/23 02:23:41 ET