UCLA reaches the end of the road
AUSTIN, Texas — As soon as the NCAA tournament bracket was released this past Sunday, several national media members leached on to No. 11 seed Minnesota as a favorite to upset No. 6 seed UCLA.
Minnesota's imposing front line combined with the Bruins missing second leading scorer Jordan Adams because of an injury gave the Golden Gophers and edge despite their seed in the eyes of some.
They were right. Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak with an 83-63 win over UCLA at the Frank Erwin Center late Friday night.
[Related video: UCLA-Minnesota highlights @NCAA.com]
The Bruins' first postseason visit since 2011 only lasted a few hours as they stumbled through one of their worst performances of the season. UCLA shot just 32 percent from the field and 18 percent from 3-point range.
"We had a couple wide open shots that we just didn't knock down and it kind of snowballed," coach Ben Howland said. "We continued to miss some good looks early in the game."
The Bruins' five starters were just 3-for-23 at halftime.
The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, could do no wrong. Minnesota shot 51 percent from the field and a blistering 56 percent from long range (9-for-16). Minnesota coach Tubby Smith used 11 players and applied full-court pressure defense in an attempt to take advantage of UCLA's depleted seven-man roster.
"We were really on our game, making shots and that's always a remedy for a lot of things when the ball goes in the basket," Smith said. "Our defense was outstanding. When we're making shots from the outside, we're pretty effective."
Golden Gophers sophomore guard Andre Hollins led all scorers with 28 points. He also pulled down nine rebounds and handed out five assists.
Just after the UCLA cut Minnesota's lead to five points – the closest the Bruins would get in the second half – Hollins launched back-to-back three pointers to push the lead back to double digits. His brother Austin had the assist on the latter.
"When a team starts scoring on your defense, you get more pressure to score," Andre Hollins said. "After I hit those 3s, it relieved the pressure.
"My teammates believe in me and they know I can make the shot. Tonight, I hit it. [UCLA was] trying to make a run. I'm thankful for my teammates for giving me the ball when I was open."
UCLA finishes the season with a 25-10 overall record and 13-5 in Pac-12 Conference play. Minnesota moves on to face No. 3 seed Florida on Sunday.