Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.
Next time Tubby Smith feels inclined to show off his dance moves, he might think twice. After the old coach cut up a rug in the Gopher locker room following an overtime win over Wisconsin, all his team has done is go on the road and get smacked twice, dropping games to Iowa and Ohio State by a combined 47 points. Suffice it to say that there was no two-stepping going on in the visitor’s locker room in Columbus last night, as Minnesota has now dropped five consecutive road contests. Dazzling computer numbers and a handful of quality victories should prevent the Gophers from slipping all the way out of the NCAA Tournament field, but for a team that was once 15-1 and in the top 10 of both national polls, this late February predicament feels like one that never should have happened.
The Gopher offense still ranks in Ken Pomeroy’s top-25 nationally in regard to offensive efficiency, but the recent slide has coincided with some serious issues putting the ball in the bucket. Minnesota exceeded 70 points in all but two of their first 18 games; in the last nine affairs (a stretch where they went 3-6), Tubby’s crew has managed 60 points just twice. Star guard Andre Hollins’ production has been equally dismal over that stretch, having shot just 32% from the field over those nine games. Tubby Smith had to expect his team’s offense to drop off a bit when they hit Big Ten play, but the grade of that cliff has proven far steeper than he would have liked.