Dec. 11, 2012
No. 13 Minnesota (11-1) 70, North Dakota State (8-3) 57
Williams Arena - Minneapolis, Minn.
Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith
“Good evening, everyone. Whenever we play North Dakota State we know it’s going to be a real tough, hard fought game. That’s not a cliché because I have a lot of respect for Saul Phillips and his staff and how they prepare. Their kids, they come ready to play, but I’m pleased with our guys as far as discipline is concerned. When you play teams that are coming in, border state, they’re coming in with their guns blazing. They’re playing well. They’ve been playing well holding their opponents to 38 percent (shooting) and they did the same thing tonight. But I thought we stuck with our game plan and we got a big game out of Trevor [Mbakwe] and obviously Rodney [Williams]. Two guys that we expect to do that. Even though we shot the ball poorly, I thought we did enough defensively to keep the Bison at bay.”
On Trevor Mbakwe being the spark in the second unit:
“Yeah, I think whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he is. I believe in all the players and that’s why I play them. I say to them, ‘You wouldn’t be going in the game if I didn’t trust you. I believe you’re a decent player.' Same with Trevor. He’s the best rebounder I’ve ever coached and I say that every time. He’s really developing. He’s very patient in the post so he looked good doing that. He’s learning to do other things, develop other phases, other parts of his game other than just sheer power. That’s something I think sometimes you do out of necessity and I think that’s what he’s learning to do.”
North Dakota State Head Coach Saul Phillips
"Minnesota is very good. We knew we had to keep them out of transition. We knew we had to keep them off the offensive glass. We did an okay job in transition given the number of turnovers we had. We didn’t do near enough of a good job on the offensive glass. We don’t see teams and athletes like that every day and we have to learn to handle them a little bit better, but they’re good. This is the best Tubby Smith team that he’s had here, there’s no question about it. They’re a good team."
On what he told his team coming into play the No. 13 team:
“Let it fly, baby. We get the same kind of deal when we play a non-Division I. They come out with nothing to lose. We look at them like, You know what, we got a crack here. We played hard. We can get better fundamentally at some things and if we close those gaps, we’ll continue to get better. We have aspirations of doing some big things this year, and I’m sure they do, too. I think it was really two pretty good teams. They were just clearly better tonight.”
On if it hurt to have Marshall Bjorklund in foul trouble:
“Oh yeah, Marshall being in foul trouble hurts us a lot. You can see he stabilized us early. He stabilized us late. He’s a big, nasty, Minnesota pig farmer and he plays like it. He’s our toughness."
Trevor Mbakwe (Sr./F)
On if he was in the zone:
“Yeah, I just wanted to come out and play with energy. We came out to sort of a slow start and I wanted to be that energy guy. I was able to get some rebounds early in the second half and when they called my number I just made the most of my opportunities.”
On if he is fueled by what the media says:
“I don’t put too much into it. Coach always says not to get too high or low on yourself. When you’re not playing up to your level, that’s what you have to expect. Sometimes I read it, but I don’t put too much into it. It adds more fuel to the fire and it motivates me, in a good way. I’m focused and ready for our next game, getting ready for the Big Ten season. It’s going to be a grind, but we are all looking forward to it.”
Rodney Willams Jr. (Sr./F)
On choosing the same 360 dunk he has done before:
“I got nervous. When I got the steal I knew I was going to dunk it because I heard the crowd. I had to do want I knew would go in. I almost broke my back afterward, so maybe next time I will try something new.”
On what type of dunk might be next:
“It all depends on the score. If it is close you might see me do a 360. (My teammates) want me to do a windmill. I am not too fond of missing dunks.”
On Trevor Mbakwe’s intensity:
“Trevor’s intensity has definitely been picking up. He has stepped up in the big games like he used to. It is good to him looking like the old Trevor.”
Balanced Effort Leads Gophers Over Penn State
Nate Mason had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Minnesota Gophers in an 81-71 win over Penn State on Saturday.
Preview: Gophers vs. Penn State
Minnesota returns home for its final homestand of the year and final game in the month of February.
Traffic Advisory: Busy Weekend on Campus
Fans are advised to plan extra time for travel and parking on campus this Friday and Saturday due to multiple events taking place.