Gophers hoops: Recent mid-season collapse is worst in Tubby Smith era

Posted: Thu, 2/21, 2:37pm, Updated: 2 years ago

 

Fingers point, blame spreads and Gophers basketball loses.

Those are just a few motifs of late-season Minnesota hoops that continue as coach Tubby Smith’s February monkey has grown into a gorilla. The proverbial ape could likely throw the 61-year-old out of Williams Arena by season’s end if Smith can’t resurrect his team with four Big Ten games left.

The Gophers have lost eight of their last 11 games after a 15-1 start had many fans relating this season to the 1997 group that made it to the Final Four. Expectations were high – and rightfully so -- because these Gophers weren’t going to be like the rest.

They had veteran leadership, a healthy Trevor Mbakwe and a team Smith claims is the best group of guys he’s ever coached at Minnesota.

Fast forward six weeks and the Gophers have dug themselves another trench in the most important stretch of college basketball’s regular season.

Now fans are relating this season to the previous two – in which Minnesota went 1-7 and 1-6 in February.

As if it couldn’t get worse for Gopher faithful, a quick numbers crunch reveals the most recent tailspin is more catastrophic than past blunders; aside from the fact this team is wildly more talented and healthy than any in the Smith era.

Tubby Smith's history in Big Ten games 6 through 14

2012-13
Record: 3-6
Avg. points per game: 55
Scoring margin: -43
Avg. loss by: -11.6ppg

2011-12
Record: 4-5
Avg. points per game: 66
Scoring margin: +2
Avg. loss by: -9.6ppg

2010-11
Record: 4-5
Avg. points per game: 65
Scoring margin: +3
Avg. los by: -8ppg

2009-10 (NCAA Tournament appearance)
Record: 4-5
Avg. points per game: 69
Scoring margin: +8
Avg. loss by: -7.4ppg

2008-09 (NCAA Tournament appearance)
Record: 3-6
Avg. points per game: 60.5
Scoring margin: -34
Avg. loss by: -11.5ppg

2007-08
Record: 5-4
Avg. points per game: 66.5
Scoring margin: -4
Avg. loss by: -16.3ppg
 

If anything, this Gophers team resembles the 2008-09 squad that limped into the NCAA Tournament with a 9-9 conference record after starting 4-1. However, that group finished with two wins in its last four games -- which is no guarantee in this year's Big Ten. 

Minnesota’s next chance to turn it around is Tuesday, when No. 1 Indiana comes to Williams Arena.

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