MINNEAPOLIS – Austin Hollins and his Minnesota teammates were in one of those familiar February slumps.
They fueled all that frustration into their finest shooting performance of the season, and No. 20 Iowa had the misfortune of being in the way.
Hollins scored a career-high 27 points on 8-for-10 shooting, DeAndre Mathieu had 19 points and seven assists, and the Gophers bounced back with a 95-89 victory Tuesday night.
The Gophers (18-11, 7-9 Big Ten) had lost six of their previous eight games.
“Guys didn’t let that affect them. They were really motivated to work and get better and come out here and get this win,” said Hollins, who went 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 7-for 7-from the free-throw line.
The Gophers, who posted their biggest point total of the season – and their highest in a non-overtime conference game since 1995 – made 13 of their last 14 free throws over the final 70 seconds.
Charles Buggs came off the end of the bench to score a career-high 13 points, despite bringing only five points in 21 career minutes into the game.
“We believe in what we’re doing. We’ve had some games that haven’t been great. We’ve had some games that have been great. Tonight was a great one,” coach Richard Pitino said.
Devyn Marble had only five of his 24 points in the second half for the Hawkeyes (19-8, 8-6), who have their first two-game losing streak of the season. All six of their previous defeats were by teams currently ranked in the top 22 of the latest Associated Press poll.
Aaron White added 21 points, and Josh Oglesby scored 16 in his first start of the season, with Melsahn Basabe held out because of an illness.
After managing just 54, 49 and 46 points in each of their last three games, the Gophers snapped to life with a 51-point first half. Needing another win over a top team like this badly to reboot their NCAA tournament bid, they posted their season-high score while shooting 30 for 49 from the field (61.2 percent).
Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffrey wasn’t all that upset.
“We can blame our defense if we want to, but at some point you have to respect your opponent and say, ‘You know what? Richard had a good game plan. They executed it. They moved it. They got open, and they made the shots. More power to ‘em,’” McCaffrey said.