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Minnesota 84, Nebraska 65

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- After four consecutive losses and 15-spot free fall in the Associated Press rankings, Minnesota made certain its losing streak would not reach five games.

Led by wing Rodney Williams, No. 23 Minnesota jumped on Nebraska from the opening tip Tuesday night. The Gophers led by double digits just seven minutes into the game and were never truly threatened in an 84-65 victory over the Cornhuskers.

It was an important turnaround for a Minnesota team that was ranked as high as No. 8 before suffering consecutive losses to Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin. After sliding all the way into seventh in the Big Ten standings, the Gophers (16-5, 4-4 Big Ten) needed a victory.

Rodney Williams played a significant role for the Gophers. After scoring nine points combined in the road losses to the Wildcats and Badgers, Williams scored 19 points in the first half and finished with 23. Andre Hollins added 14 points while Austin Hollins finished with 13.

Ray Gallegos led Nebraska (11-11, 2-7) with 30 points while Brandon Ubel scored 13 and Shavon Shields finished with 10.

While Minnesota saw what had been a 15-point lead in the first half get cut to single digits at halftime, the Gophers extended the cushion early in the second half. Andre Hollins scored eight points in the first four-plus minutes after the break and his 3-pointer with 15:22 to play gave the Gophers a 54-40 lead.

Even though Minnesota has struggled to put together consecutive good halves of basketball during much of Big Ten play, the Gophers didn't allow the Huskers to get back into the game.

The Gophers quickly set the tone for the game and got the pace they wanted from the start. After failing to get to the 50-point mark in two consecutive losses, Minnesota use a pressing defense and got several easy baskets.

Led by Williams, the Gophers made 10 of their first 13 field goal attempts and led 23-8 before the game was eight minutes old. That fast star allowed Minnesota to lead 44-35 at halftime. That first half total equaled the Gophers point total for 40 minutes in Saturday's loss at Wisconsin.

While Nebraska was down 15 points early, Gallegos did everything he could to keep the Huskers in the game. Gallegos, who entered the game averaging 12.7 points per game, made four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes and scored 20 first-half points.

Nebraska got within seven, 40-33, when Dylan Talley made a 3-pointer with 1:05 to play in the half, but Minnesota got a pair of free throws from Williams and an Andre Hollins basket to stretch the lead to nine at the break.

NOTES: While the Gophers entered the game having lost four consecutive games, they were not in danger of establishing a mark for length of losing streaks. Just last season the Gophers lost six games in a row, a streak that ended any chance of reaching the NCAA tournament. In 2011, Minnesota lost 10 of 11 to end the season. ... With a first-year head coach, it seemed reasonable to think that Nebraska would improve as the season went along. That has been the case offensively. The Cornhuskers averaged only 47 points per game in their first four Big Ten games, but followed that up by scoring 59.8 ppg over the past four. ... For the Gophers, this game began a stretch in which they play four of five games at Williams Arena. ... This game started a stretch for Nebraska in which the Huskers play four ranked teams -- Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State -- in five games.
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