AUSTIN, Texas — Minnesota coach Tubby Smith got the win he needed to calm his critics at home. UCLA’s Ben Howland took a loss that will only ignite a new round of howling for his job out West.
Andre Hollins scored 28 points as Minnesota rolled past punchless UCLA 83-63 in the South Region on Friday, giving Smith his first NCAA Tournament win in six seasons with the Gophers.
Austin Hollins scored 16 for the 11th-seeded Gophers (21-12), who earned their first win since March 2 and advanced to play third-seeded Florida on Sunday.
“My teammates believe in me; they know I can hit the shots,” Andre Hollins said. “Tonight I hit the shots.”
The 20-point loss will be tough for Howland to bring back to Los Angeles. Despite winning the Pac-12 regular-season title, the Bruins (25-10) came to Austin hearing intense rumblings of dissatisfaction with a program that hasn’t made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2009. UCLA missed the tournament altogether last season.
Howland, who led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 to ’08, wouldn’t talk about his future after the game.
“I’m really proud of this group of kids, and I’m really indebted to them for the great season they provided,” he said.
Even the conference title was dampened, however, when Jordan Adams, whom Howland described as his team’s best all-around player, was lost to a broken ankle in the Pac-12 tournament.
The Bruins clearly missed Adams.
UCLA looked disjointed on offense and freshman Shabazz Muhammad, expected to leave for the NBA, missed all seven of his shots in the first half. Muhammad, a Bishop Gorman High School product, finished with 20 points, but his teammates often looked for other options, and most of his scoring came in a desperate rally that never got close.
“I thought we were prepared,” Muhammad said. “They came out and jumped on us early, and they really played well.”
MINNESOTA — 83
UCLA — 63
■ KEY: Andre Hollins scored 28 points and Austin Hollins 16 to power the Gophers.
■ NEXT: Minnesota vs. Florida, 3:10 p.m. Sunday