Mo Walker is quickly turning the page in his college basketball career.
Some might point to his demanding first-half performance in the Gophers January win over the Badgers as the game things really got serious for the Minnesota big man.
It’s added a dimension to the U of M offense which leading into the season, looked to be guard oriented.
Not so much anymore according to their head coach.
“It’s changed,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said of the offense. “Since the Wisconsin game, our offense has evolved to more of a low-post threat. [Walker] gives us great confidence, we’re looking for him more. Especially with no Andre Hollins healthy enough just yet, we need to go inside. We’re too easy to guard with Andre not 100 percent.
“I think Mo is settling in to be one of the tougher guys to guard on the block in this conference. He’s a tough out, he really is.”
Hollins injury came in the first few minutes of Wisconsin’s 81-68 loss back in January. A game where Walker at one point scored 11 straight Gophers points, ending the night with 18 while chipping in 9 rebounds along with it.
After gaining so much confidence in his last appearance vs. Wisconsin, the focal point tonight becomes how well Wisconsin’s interior can play, defensively, against mainly Walker.
“[Our defense against big men has] been probably, from our level, average,” Wisconsin head coach, Bo Ryan, said. “With the group we had before, with [Jared] Berggren, [Ryan] Evans and [Mike] Bruesewitz, we had become quite a formidable defensive front line. They graduated, and the guys filling those spots now have a learning curve. It is what it is. We’ve had some good games, and some games where we’ve struggled.”
Though Frank Kaminsky has had to shoulder the brunt of the load inside, he’s gained some assistance of late from freshman Nigel Hayes. Don’t be surprised to see Vitto Brown and Evan Anderson fill some valuable minutes tonight, also.
Minnesota comes into the contest have lost three straight, their most recent in a three overtime game against Purdue.
In the loss, Walker led the way with 17 points and six rebounds and while DeAndre Mathieu chipped in with 15 points for the Golden Gophers (15-8, 4-6).
The game against Purdue was the first game back for Hollins who’d sat out with the severely sprained ankle suffered in the first match-up with Wisconsin.
For Badgers fans out there tonight, make sure you follow along with the BOH staff on Twitter – follow @BadgerOfHonorFS for in-game updates and commentary.