Observations from Wednesday's 70-61 Win Against La Salle (NIT - First Round)

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Strong First Half Finish
After trailing for much of the up-and-down first half, the Gophers went into the locker room with a 40-37 lead. Minnesota ended the half on an 8-0 run. Rodney Williams led the way with 17 points in the first.

Back-to-Back Big Games
For the first time in his career, Rodney Williams posted consecutive 20-point games. He scored an even 20 in the Gophers' loss to Michigan in the Big Ten quarterfinals, and upped that total to 21 tonight, tying a career high. He now has three 20-point games in his career, all this season.

Williams scored some of his points with his patented highlight reel dunks, but also mixed in some mid-range jumpers. The jumpshot has been a focus for him during this season as it was during the offseason, and he showed some improvement in his shooting stroke today. Williams will become even more of a scoring threat next season if he continues to work on his shot, forcing opponents to guard him on the perimeter as well as around the basket.
Go Gophers! Dre
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins has scored in double figures in five straight games.
Go Gophers!

Gophers in the NIT

This is Minnesota's 14th appearance in the NIT. The Gophers are 19-11--including a championship in 1993--in the tournament during non-vacated seasons. With the vacated games, they are 25-12, including another title in 1998. Their last NIT appearance came in 2008, Tubby Smith's first season at Minnesota, when they lost to Maryland in the first round. Minnesota's last NIT victory came in 2006 against Wake Forest in the first round.

Hollins Hot Streak
With Trevor Mbakwe out for the season, Ralph Sampson III (the only other senior) injured, and just three juniors on the team, the Gophers have needed big contributions from their younger players. Recently, sophomore Austin Hollins and freshman Andre Hollins have been the ones to step up. Andre (13 tonight) scored in double figures the past five games, Austin (16 tonight) in the past four. This five game stretch includes the Big Ten Tournament, where Andre earned all-tournament honors by scoring 46 points in two games.

Smith Reaches the Century Mark

Tonight's win was Tubby Smith's 100th as Minnesota's head coach. He is the eighth Gopher coach to reach triple digits. This was also the 20th win of the season for the Gophers, making this the fourth season in which Smith has guided them to at least 20 wins. More information here.

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