Austin Hollins netted 32 points on 8- of-14 shooting from the floor, adding 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, to lead his top-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers to an 81-73 victory over the third-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the quarterfinal round of the National Invitation Tournament at Williams Arena.
Joey Kind chipped in 15 points in the win, and Maurice Walker came off the bench to score 12 points with nine rebounds for Minnesota (23-13). The Gophers advance to the semifinal round of the NIT, and will take on the winner of Florida State and Louisiana Tech.
Neil Watson scored 16 points and dished out six assists for Southern Miss (29-7). Daveon Boardingham tallied 15 points and five rebounds in the loss.
Minnesota connected on 51.6 percent of its shot attempts in the first half, including an impressive 8-of-19 from 3-point distance, to take a 44-40 lead into the intermission. Southern Miss made 45.5 percent of its shot tries in the frame, and hit 4-of-10 from long range.
The Golden Gophers cooled off just a bit in the second half by netting 47.6 percent of their field goal tries, but buried 15-of-17 from the free-throw line. The Eagles hit 42.3 percent of their shots from the floor, and fell behind an additional four points in the period.
Minnesota outscored Southern Miss from the free-throw line, 19-12, and had a slight 14-12 advantage in points off turnovers. The Golden Eagles won the battle in points in the paint, 30-20.