The Gophers almost took one more step toward another Big Ten season collapse Sunday at Williams Arena.
But Austin Hollins wasn’t about to let that happen.
Hollins drained the game-winning three-pointer with 11.6 seconds left and had a late steal as the No. 23 Gophers rallied to beat Iowa 62-59.
The game-winner came on a catch-and-shoot inbounds play out of a Gophers timeout.
“It was pretty much drawn up like that,” Hollins said. “I saw some daylight, so I let it go.”
On the Hawkeyes’ following possession, Hollins stole the ball from Iowa guard Mike Gesell with five seconds left.
Hollins’ 17 points were a game-high and the most for the junior guard since Minnesota’s Jan. 17 loss to Michigan.
Minnesota hadn’t led in more than 13 minutes until Hollins’ game winner.
“We had one foot in the grave,” coach Tubby Smith said.
The Gophers have won back-to-back games after losing four straight, and Sunday’s victory is Minnesota’s third February victory in the last three seasons.
A season in the Big Ten causes bumps and bruises, and it’s clear the Gophers are not devoid of theirs.
Joe Coleman limped around the locker room after the game with a bag of ice on his right ankle and one on his left knee.
“It was a big shot,” Coleman said of Hollins’ final bucket. “It’s what [Hollins] is supposed to do.”
With the Gophers trailing late in the second half, sophomore Andre Hollins huddled his team near half court to talk.
“From your point guard, you expect stuff like that when times are getting hectic,” Rodney Williams said.
Andre Hollins had 15 points and a career-high eight assists.
Minnesota kept its turnovers low, committing just 12 against the Hawkeyes. But Coleman had a game-high five turnovers, which is also his Big Ten season-high.
Smith’s squad carried its momentum from a lopsided win against Nebraska, jumping out to a 14-2 lead early.
But the Hawkeyes adjusted to the Gophers’ tall lineup, as Smith played Elliott Eliason at center for about half the game.
The Hawkeyes finished with an 18-12 advantage on the offensive glass, giving them plenty of second-chance opportunities.
After his 19-point first half against the Cornhuskers, Rodney Williams finished with 10 points and a Big Ten season-high seven rebounds.
“Other guys had it going today,” Williams said. “I wasn’t looking to force anything.”
Minnesota had a 29-28 lead at halftime and lost its lead early in the second half.
Eliason was the only productive bench player, as the Gophers’ reserves were outscored 27-0 by Iowa’s bench.
The 7-foot sophomore had six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 19 minutes — his most time logged in a Big Ten game this season.
No other Gophers reserve played more than six minutes, as all of Minnesota’s 49 field-goal attempts came from the starters.
“I hope we haven’t peaked,” Smith said. “We have a lot more to do, a lot more to learn. But this is a good start.”