Our breakdown of Wednesday's game: Minnesota 84, Illinois 67
Player of the Game: Minnesota’s Joe Coleman
Hometown kid made the folks in Minneapolis proud with a career-best 29 points. He scored in all sorts of ways: dunks, threes, layups, you name it. Credit his teammates for being smart enough to keep getting him the ball.
Minnesota A-, Illinois D
Sixth-year stud Trevor Mbakwe had a double-double (19 points, 11 boards) and showed again that the Illini are going to have trouble with the big guys. Illinois is going to need more than two rebounds and two fouls from senior Tyler Griffey.
Minnesota A+, Illinois C
Sign of trouble for Illini: Andre Hollins banks in a midcourt shot. Hollins added 22 points to Coleman’s 29 and had eight rebounds and six assists. Early foul trouble for Tracy Abrams hurt Illini. So did Brandon Paul’s bloody nose.
Minnesota D, Illinois C
Gophers didn’t get a point from the backups and just three rebounds. Minnesota is going to need more help from the subs if it wants to contend for the Big Ten title. Joseph Bertrand tried but missed too many shots (7 of 9).
Minnesota A, Illinois C-
Gophers earned Tubby Smith a contract extension with a late rush last season. What happens if they keep winning at this rate: Governor Smith? With a weekend trip to Madison, John Groce’s guys can expect some strenuous practices the next couple of days.