No. 11 seed Minnesota dug themselves to deep of a hole in their 78-64 loss to No. 3 Florida on Sunday evening.
The Gophers were on the wrong end of a Florida blitzkrieg in the first half, helpless as the Gators drilled three-ball after three-ball and stymied the Minnesota offensive attack to open up a 48-27 lead at the break.
Minnesota didn’t roll over, however. In fact, they outplayed the Gators for the majority of the second half, riding the hot hand of Andre Hollins to a 25-12 surge to open the second half, cutting Florida’s lead to eight points. And if it wasn’t for the foul trouble that Hollins got into midway through the second half, the Gophers may have come all the way back.
That’s a tough argument to make, especially against a program as good as Florida, but the bottom line is that Minnesota didn’t role over despite seemingly doing so for what felt like the last two months of the regular season.
The question now becomes whether or not that will be enough to save Tubby Smith’s job.
The irony of the Gophers’ opening round game against No. 6 seed UCLA is that the loser seemed destined to be fired by the institution they are employed by. Tubby got the win, and then put together a performance in the round of 32 that was much more impressive than the final score would indicate.
But he also once again headed up a team that climbed into the top ten in November only to see an extended losing streak in February cost him a favorable seed in the NCAA tournament. It’s become a trend for the Gophers, and that’s not the kind of reputation that any coach wants. The fans are fed up.
Are the athletic department’s decision-makers fed up as well?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.