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.