Minnesota dominated UCLA on the interior in the first half Friday night, led by senior Trevor Mbakwe. Once that ran its course, its guards took over to finish the job in an impressive 83-63 win in the Round of 64 in Austin, Texas.
Mbakwe finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, while the backcourt trio of Andre Hollins (28 points), Austin Hollins (16 points), and Joe Coleman (14 points) put the finishing touches on a UCLA team that looked unenthused and lethargic in the second half.
The theme of matchups continues to run throughout this NCAA tournament and already without Jordan Adams because of injury, the Bruins could already do little to stop what Minnesota did offensively with both Hollins guards and Coleman. Add that to the fact that Mbakwe and Elliott Eliason were getting UCLA’s bigs in foul trouble early and the Gophers were hitting the Bruins on both fronts.
The game was billed as the “Loser Loses His Job,” referring to the hot seat beneath both Minnesota coach Tubby Smith and UCLA coach Ben Howland, but we’ll have to see how off-season decisions pan out to see if that proves true. Early Twitter reports say Howland would not comment after the game on whether or not he had just coached his final game with the Bruins.
Minnesota now moves on to play Florida in the Round of 32 for a chance to advance to the Sweet 16. Mbakwe will meet his match in the paint against another physical player in Florida’s Patric Young, while the Gopher backcourt will have their hands full with Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton. Minnesota, most importantly, will have to make shots. The more it succumbs to Florida’s defense and allows the Gators to bait them into bad shots and misses, the more it sparks the Florida transition game that can quickly put the Gophers in a hole.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.
“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”
McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.
“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.
Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.
And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.
The biggest shock to me?
The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.
They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.
Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?
Here is the rest of the AP Poll:
1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)
DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas