VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
With 4 straight losses, Minnesota's in a slump

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota has developed a troubling pattern since hiring coach Tubby Smith: a midseason slide.

Advertisement
The Gophers are counting on a return home this week to help restore their rhythm and turn the current four-game losing streak into an aberration rather than a trend.

``It's mostly mental. We have to just keep having faith,'' center Trevor Mbakwe said. ``We all still believe we're one of the best teams in the country. Now we've just got to go out and play that way.

In six years with Smith, Minnesota has lost only eight nonconference games. Regardless of the quality of those early victories, the Gophers have always taken plenty of confidence and momentum into Big Ten play.

But whether the cause was injuries to irreplaceable players, disruptive off-the-court issues or simply tougher competition that exposed some flaws, they have always faded - be it in mid-January, early February or a late skid into tournament time in March.

The Gophers reached as high as eighth in The Associated Press poll, but they tumbled from 12th all the way to 23rd in the latest rankings released Monday after losing on the road last week to Northwestern and Wisconsin.

``Nobody likes to lose, but it happens. That's part of sports. We've got to fight through it as a team,'' swingman Austin Hollins said.

They had myriad chances to win both times, but a two-game total of 92 points and a pattern of untimely fast-break-squelching turnovers led to defeats that dropped their record to 15-5 including 3-4 in the conference.

One of their problems has been a lack of production from the reserves, but in the last two games starters Joe Coleman, Hollins and Rodney Williams combined for 27 points and together shot 9 for 39 (23 percent) from the field.

``I've got to be more aggressive, more vocal. It didn't help that I wasn't hitting any shots,'' Hollins said. ``I thought I did a decent job on defense, but at the same time that can always get better.''

Williams had a breakthrough season as a junior, but since Big Ten play began the kind of passive offense and inconsistent scoring that hampered him his first two years has returned to the court. He's one of the most athletic players in the country, but at power forward he's thinner than most of his opponents and has been getting bumped around. The Gophers tried moving him to the wing, where he played as a freshman and sophomore, some against Wisconsin.

``We know that he's a great player. People go through slumps like that. Unfortunately he's gone through a little slump, but I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow he goes for 15 or 20 points,'' Mbakwe said. ``He's a competitor. I know he's been taking a lot of criticism. It's not all Rodney.''

Williams was unavailable to reporters after practice on Monday.

``Something's getting him off his game. That's one thing that always concerns me, just staying mentally focused and not letting one play affect you in another couple of plays,'' Smith said. ``I just think he needs to be more active going to the glass and creating more opportunities.''

Minnesota hosts Nebraska on Tuesday and Iowa on Sunday, and after a tough trip to Michigan State returns to Williams Arena for games against Illinois and Wisconsin. While the goal of a Big Ten title might be all but gone, plenty of time remains for the Gophers to re-establish themselves as one of the best in this stacked-as-ever conference and get in position for that elusive NCAA tournament win under Smith.

Smith has been sharply critical of his players after several of these recent losses, but this week his tone has been more upbeat.

``Our job as a coaching staff is to tell `em we love `em, tell `em how good they are and how much better they can be,'' Smith said.

He added: ``I still have a lot of confidence in them, if you're asking that question. We still haven't peaked yet. We have a lot of basketball left to play. We've got a lot to do. Nobody's happy when we lose. I know I'm not.''

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: Georgia Tech vs. TCU
Edwards: Final Four Primer
News: Final Four Openers
Wyoming tops Coastal Carolina, 81-57
St. Peter's whips Furman in CIT semis
Texas A&M-CC rips UMBC in CIT semis
UMass hires Chattanooga's McCall
Cal introduces new hoops coach Jones
Terps' Trimble declares for NBA draft
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAA BK College Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAA BK Hot Streaks
5 NCAA Wins in a Row
11-3 L14, 32-11 Run, 13-3 G-Plays
7-3 L10, 13-5 L18 Picks, +2,199 TY
8-4 L12, 22-9 Run, 14-6 G-Plays
6-1 L7 G-Plays, 5-1 L6 Picks
15-6 L5 Days, +6,026 L35 Days
14-5 L19 College BK G-Plays
6-2 L8 G-Plays, +6,366 Totals TY
6-0 L6 Guarantees, 11-3 L14 Picks
42-24 L66 Picks, +6,524 TY
4-2 L6 G-Plays, 6-3 L6 Days
3-1 L4, 8-4 L12 Guarantees
6-1 L7 Guaranteed Plays
15-7 L22 Picks, 11-3 Totals TY
28-14 Run, 14-4 L18 G-Plays
4-1 L5 G-Plays, 6-2 L8 Picks
8-4 L12, 18-9 L27 Guarantees
14-7 L21 Over/Under Plays
NCAA BK College Basketball Expert Sports Picks - Texas Christian Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
2016 CBK SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 6524
NeiltheGreek + 4007
Don Anthony + 2199
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 659
Stephen Nover + 500
Chip Chirimbes + 464
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Don Anthony 57 %
Bruce Marshall 57 %
Michael Black 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 1180
Chip Chirimbes + 885
Michael Black + 873
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
NeiltheGreek + 6366
Antony Dinero + 1531
Bruce Marshall + 1469
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2362
NeiltheGreek + 2081
Dave Cokin + 1548
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership