Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine

No. 9 Minnesota beats No. 18 Michigan State at home

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Andre Hollins finished 22 points and six assists and Trevor Mbakwe outplayed Michigan State’s massive front line to the tune of 11 points and 12 boards as No. 9 Minnesota knocked off No. 18 Michigan State in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

The Gophers trailed 59-54 with nine minutes left in the game, but used a 22-4 run down the stretch to secure the win.

This win was a statement for Minnesota, who had their doubters heading into the start of conference play. As good as Minnesota has looked, their resume wasn’t exactly overwhelming coming in. The wins over Stanford, Memphis and Florida State don’t look as impressive as they did at the time, and beating South Dakota State by 24 is dulled when you remember that the Jackrabbits were without Nate Wolters.

The Gophers have looked great in non-conference play in recent years only to crumble once they enter Big Ten play. That doesn’t appear to be the case this year, as Minnesota not only outlasted the Spartans, but closed them out with the kind of surge that Michael Phelps would have been proud of. Hollins is the truth, Rodney Williams has finally learned how to be more than just an athlete and Mbakwe finally looks like he’s regaining his explosiveness.

That said, Michigan State looked good for the first 31 minutes of this game. Throw in that this game was played in the Barn — which, when Minnesota is good, is one of the tougher places to get a win in the Big Ten — and it’s tough to really put too much stock into this performance beyond the fact that Minnesota was capable of defending their home court against a quality conference foe.

That’s a good sign for the Gophers, even if it’s not yet time to pencil them into the Final Four.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.


Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.