The Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-7, 4-5) are back in Minneapolis and they will face the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-13, 4-7) at Williams Arena in what is the only scheduled matchup between the border rivals this season.
The Hawkeyes won both games between the teams a season ago and are currently on a three-game win streak against the Gophers. The current Gophers seniors did fare well against Iowa in the 2006-07 defeats, however, as Dan Coleman averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 32.5 min per game; Lawrence McKenzie contributed averages of 16.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 39.5 minutes while Spencer Tollackson chipped in with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 34 minutes in the one game he played.
Minnesota does hold a 91-80 lead in the all-times series, including a 54-31 mark in Minneapolis, that dates back to a 49-10 win on March 1, 1902.
Iowa is led by junior guard Tony Freeman, who is averaging 15.4 points and 3.0 rebounds, and senior guard Justin Johnson who is contributed 11.0 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Minnesota had six players score in double figures for the first time since Dec. 2, 1991 against Youngstown State.
Minnesota's 92 points is the most in a road contest since notching 93 at Michigan on Feb. 17, 2001 (93-75 win).
The 92 points are the most in a Big Ten game since scoring 94 in a 94-70 win over Penn State on Jan. 30, 2002 at Williams Arena.
Minnesota has won three road Big Ten contests for the first time since 2004-05. The Gophers have won consecutive road games for the first time since 2004-05 (2/26/05 at Purdue and 3/2/05 at Penn State).
The Gophers have won the last three meetings with Northwestern and have swept the season series with the Wildcats for the first time since 2003. Minnesota has also won consecutive games at Welsh-Ryan Arena for the first time since Feb. 8,1992 and Feb. 24, 1993.
The 92 points is the most against Northwestern since tallying 92 in a 92-50 win at Williams Arena on Jan. 29, 1992. It's tied for the fourth-highest point total ever scored against the Wildcats in the 141 games in the series. Minnesota leads the all-time series 85-56.
Minnesota's 20-point margin of victory is the largest in a conference game since defeating Penn State 83-62 on Jan. 8, 2005 (span of 55 games).
The 92 points is a season-high and the most since scoring 94 against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 29, 2004 (span of 104 games).
Minnesota utilized its sixth different starting lineup of the season as Blake Hoffarber earned his first career start.
Lawrence Westbrook became the first Gopher to record double-digit assists on the season and he recorded his first career double-double. The last Gopher to have a double-double of points and assists was Lawrence McKenzie on Feb. 18. 2007.
His double-double is the third for Minnesota this season (Dan Coleman -2).
Westbrook is one of only six players to ever record double figure assists in a conference game, joining Arriel McDonald (four times), Melvin Newbern, Ray Williams, Adam Boone and Lawrence McKenzie.
Westbrook scored in double figures for the third straight game (longest in his career) and the 11th time in his career.
With 10 points, Dan Coleman surpassed the 1,200-point mark and has 1,209 for his career.
Coleman reached double figures for the 15th time this season and the 63rd time in his career.
Jamal Abu-Shamala scored a season-high 16 points and reached double figures for the 15th time in his career.
Hoffarber scored in double figures for the 10th time this season.
McKenzie reached double figures for the 15th time this season and the 67th time in his career. He attempted his 1,000th career field goal in the first half.
Tollackson scored in double figures for the 11th time this season and the 36th time in his career.
With the Gophers’ 77-65 victory over Michigan Jan. 31 in Ann Arbor, head coach Tubby Smith become a member of the 400 win club. Smith is 401-152 in 17 seasons as a head coach (79-43 at Tulsa, 45-19 at Georgia, 263-83 at Kentucky and 14-7 at Minnesota). Coming into the season, only 20 active coaches had amassed at least 400 career wins. Texas Tech’s Bob Knight leads all coaches with a record of 902-371 in 42 seasons on the bench with Army, Indiana and the past five seasons as the head coach of the Red Raiders.
Freshman Blake Hoffarber not only is tied for Big Ten Conference lead in three-point field accuracy at .475 (48-101), but is on pace to break several school records. He is on pace to break the current school record for three-point field goal percentage (.469 by Travarus Bennett in 2001-02) and three-pointers made (78 by Lawrence McKenzie last season).
Hoffarber is already approaching the Gophers’ mark for three- pointers by a freshman, set by Voshon Lenard (51) in 1991-92.
THREE-POINTERS BY A GOPHER FRESHMAN
Player (Season) 3FGM
Voshon Lenard (1991-92) 51
Blake Hoffarber (2007-08) 48
Kevin Burleson (1999-00) 44
Michael Bauer (2000-01) 34
Quincy Lewis (1995-96) 26
Minnesota’s bench has provided a big punch this season, outscoring its opponents in 17 of the team’s 21 games. The Gophers hold a cumulative 541-330 bench scoring edge on its foes including a 30-1 advantage over Iowa State on Nov. 20, a 27-4 advantage over UC Riverside on Dec. 1, a 41-7 edge over North Dakota State on Dec. 3, a 44-27 margin against Colorado State, a 26-13 edge on Dec. 12 vs. South Dakota State, a 16-2 margin against Santa Clara on Dec. 22, a 33-10 edge against Nicholls State on Dec. 28, a 22-21 against Michigan State in the conference opener on Jan. 5 and a 31-14 edge over Northwestern on Jan. 9. The Gophers bench also outscored Penn State 29-8 on Jan. 12, Ohio State 20-6 on Jan. 26 and Northwestern 20-10 Feb. 6 in Evanston.
A Gopher has scored at least five points off the bench in 19 of the team’s 20 games, led by Blake Hoffarber’s 21 points against Colorado State, 15 points against Northwestern on Jan. 9 and a 19-point effort against Penn State on Jan. 12. Hoffarber was also the leading bench scorer in all three Duel in the Desert games (Dec. 28-30) with 13, 10 and 13 points against Nicholls State, Kennesaw State and UNLV, respectively. Al Nolen scored seven off the bench against Michigan State while Damian Johnson and Kevin Payton both scored six points off the bench against Santa Clara on Dec. 22. Lawrence McKenzie scored 20 points off the bench against Iowa State and 16 at Northwestern on Feb. 6; Johnson chipped in a career-high 12 points against Army; Hoffarber scored 12 off the bench against Florida State while Hoffarber and Johnson chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively, off the bench against UC Riverside. Nolen had 15 to lead the Gophers against NDSU, while Johnson contributed 10 points against South Dakota State.
COLEMAN ON THE CHARTS
Senior Dan Coleman became just the 34th player in school history to record 1,000 career points, thanks to a 22-point effort in the Gophers 91-74 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 8. Coleman has added 191 points since and currently is in 19th place on the career points list with 1,209. Mychal Thompson (1974-78) sits atop the list with 1,992 career points.
Also, with 14 rebounds vs. Northwestern (1/9) Coleman become just the 17th Gopher player with 1,000 points and 500 boards in a career. Michael Bauer was the last Gopher to join the club, reaching the milestone in 2004. With two blocks against Wisconsin on Feb. 3, Coleman now has 97 career blocks, moving him into ninth place on Minnesota’s all-time list.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
At this time last year, the Gophers were 8-13 but that is not the only major difference between the two seasons. Minnesota is averaging 12.7 more points per game this season (73.3-60.6) while allowing 2.7 points less per game (63.5-66.2).
Minnesota has relied heavily on its two freshmen, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber in the early part of the season.
Nolen is averaging 4.3 points, 3.4 assists, 2.3 steals and 20.9 minutes per game this season. He has tied for or led the Gophers in assists in 11 of the 20 games he has played in, including a career-high seven Jan. 5 at Michigan State and seven again at Penn State on Jan. 1. He has recorded 45 steals (2.3 spg), which ranks him first overall in the Big Ten and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in assists at 3.5 per game and ninth in the conference with a 1.60 assist/turnover ratio.
Hoffarber is averaging 9.2 for the Gophers this season and is shooting .504 (67-133) from the floor, including .475 (48-101) from behind the arc, the best percentage in the Big Ten Conference. He scored a season-high 21 points, hitting 6-of-11 three pointers, off the bench Dec. 8 against Colorado State. Hoffarber also came off the bench to contribute 13 points Dec. 1 against UC Riverside, 10 points against North Dakota State on Dec. 3, nine points Dec. 12 against South Dakota State and 13, 10 and 13 points, respectively during the three-game Duel in the Desert after Christmas. He chipped in with five points off the bench in the Gophers conference opener Jan. 5 at Michigan State, scored 15 points in the Gophers conference home opener on Jan. 9 vs. Northwestern, 19 at Penn State on Jan. 12 and 15 points in the first start of his Gopher career on Feb. 6 at Northwestern.
BIG CROWDS AT THE BARN
The Barn was packed to the limit for a third straight game Feb. 3 against Wisconsin, as a sellout crowd of 14,625 was announced. Williams arena also saw sellouts against Indiana on Jan. 17 and against Michigan State on Jan. 20. The crowd that packed the Barn to see the Gophers/Indiana tilt was the first sellout since Feb. 5, 2005 against Wisconsin. Minnesota is averaging 12,813 fans per game this season, the highest per game average since 1999-2000 when an average of 13,767 attended Gopher games.