Andre Hollins

Two White Station alums on opposite ends of the spectrum in Minnesota’s win over No. 19 Memphis

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Minnesota guard Andre Hollins and Memphis guard Joe Jackson were teammates at White Station High in Memphis, winning a state title together in 2009. Of the two it was Jackson that many focused their attention on, hailing him as the biggest local star to stay home and play for the Tigers since Penny Hardaway.

But it was Hollins who stood out in their meeting in a Battle 4 Atlantis consolation bracket contest, as we went off for a career-high 41 points in leading the Golden Gophers to an 84-75 victory.

Jackson on the other hand was ineffective when on the floor, finishing with just two points (0-of-1 FG), no assists and two turnovers. Jackson played all seven of his minutes in the first half, with head coach Josh Pastner going to options such as Geron Johnson with his point guard playing so poorly.

If not for the play of teammates such as DJ Stephens (15 points and seven rebounds) off the bench things could have gotten out of hand for the Tigers.

Rodney Williams Jr. added 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, who played much better after losing to Duke by 18 in their opening game of the tournament. And it helps when a player who entered the game shooting 29% from the field knocks down 12 of his 16 shots from the field.

But outside of Stephens or Tarik Black, who once again had to deal with foul trouble, where was the energy for Memphis? For the second consecutive day Josh Pastner’s group did not hit the ground running, and it cost them dearly.

Memphis may not have turned the ball over 22 times as they did in their loss to VCU on Thursday night (the Tigers finished with 17 against Minnesota), but they failed to take advantage of 19 Minnesota miscues and saw Hollins go off.

Hollins scored 24 of his 41 in the first half and closed the game on a personal 9-0 run to seal the victory for Minnesota, who will play the winner of Stanford/Northern Iowa on Saturday.

It’s safe to say that Hollins snapped out of his personal slump. And if Memphis is to do anything this season, they’re going to need his high school teammate to do the same.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.