Their half-court offense in particular has caused trouble, with an inability to solve zone defenses and a glaring lack of confidence, identity or purpose on so many possessions over the last few weeks. Their struggles were never more pronounced than in their last two games, in defeat by 21 points at Iowa and 26 points at Ohio State. Even on this night, despite the significant improvement, they looked lost at times when Mbakwe wasn't on the court.
So here they were after a much-needed weekend break in the schedule, back on their uniquely raised home court and trying desperately to boost spirits that have sagged under the weight of eight losses in their previous 11 games. Smith even had the team meet with a sports psychologist. Over their last 10 games, they averaged only 57 points and hadn't topped 58 in five games since Feb. 3. After being ranked in 11 straight polls, the Gophers didn't get one vote this week.