Richard Pitino wanted his team to play a complete 40 minute game in their exhibition finale against Concordia St. Paul and although they came away with a 101-67 win, he stopped short of calling the mission accomplished.
"I thought our guys really responded well in the second half," said Pitino. "We talked to them about just doing their job regardless of what the score is, regardless of what the opponent is, regardless of its an exhibition or a Big 10 game and I think they responded that way."
It wasn't easy as the Golden Bears hung around and turned in an impressive first half performance holding the Gophers to 47 points and trailing by only 10 at the break. Junior point guard DeAndre Mathieu set the tone on both ends of the floor and stuffed the stat sheet finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
"Our style of play is going to wear you down because we play fast and we practice fast," said Mathieu. "Most teams in the country don't practice like we do so our style is really going to wear you down and then we're going to keep coming, keep coming until you just wear down."
The wear down factor became evident as the second half progressed. After Concordia closed the game to within 7 points, the Gophers went on a 18-4 run extending the lead to 21 and out the game out of reach.
"To me, ideally that is the way that a game would go for us," said Pitino. "We're going to play good opponents and Concordia is a good team and we just kept wearing them down. You're not always going to get a million turnovers in the first half. Hopefully conditioning comes into play, hopefully conditioning comes into play and you just chip away at it."
Mo Walker led the Gophers in scoring with 17, the senior also pulled down 13 rebounds in the win. Andre Hollins chipped in 16 while Oto Osenieks added 10 in the win.
Terez Van Pelt and Cole Olstad scored 16 each for the Golden Bears.
The Gophers host Lehigh on Friday night to open the regular season at 7PM.