Minnesota (15-9, 5-7) returns home after a one-game road trip to take on Michigan (8-17, 4-9) at Williams Arena. The Gophers are 9-4 at “The Barn” this season. The Thursday matchup is the second of two contests this year between the two schools.
Minnesota traveled to Ann Arbor and came away with a 77-65 victory over Wolverines in the first game of the 2007-08 series.The win gave Minnesota coach Tubby Smith his 400th career head coaching victory. The Gophers were led by seniors Lawrence McKenzie, Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson, who combined to score 49 of the Gophers' 77 points.
Michigan holds a 73-57 lead in the all-time series. Prior to the Jan. 31 victory, Minnesota’s hadn’t beaten the Wolverines since a 59-55 triumph in the 2006 Big Ten Tournament.
The Wolverines are led by current Big Ten Conference Player of the Week, freshman guard Manny Harris, who is averaging 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 32.8 minutes per game. Sophomore forward DeShawn Sims pulls down a team-high 4.9 rebounds per game to go along with 13.1 points.
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 402-154 in 17 seasons as a head coach (79-43 at Tulsa, 45-19 at Georgia, 263-83 at Kentucky and 15-9 at Minnesota). Coming into the season, only 19 active coaches had amassed at least 400 career wins.
Bob Knight leads all coaches (active & retired) with a record of 902-371 in 42 seasons on the bench with Army, Indiana and four-plus seasons as the head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Lawrence Westbrook became the first Gopher to record double-digit assists on the season and he recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists on Feb. 6 against Northwestern in Evanston. 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 has four point-rebounds double-doubles this season).
Freshman Blake Hoffarber not only has the highest three-point field accuracy in Big Ten Conference at .466 (54-116), 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 has already broken the Gophers’ mark for three-pointers by a freshman, which was set by Voshon Lenard (51) in 1991-92.
THREE-POINTERS BYA GOPHER FRESHMAN
Player (Season) 3FGM
Blake Hoffarber (2007-08) 54
Voshon Lenard (1991-92) 51
Kevin Burleson (1999-00) 44
Michael Bauer (2000-01) 34
Quincy Lewis (1995-96) 26
TWO GOPHERS AMONGST ACTIVE BIG TEN SCORERS
Of the six active players in the Big Ten Conference to surpass the 1,000-point plateau in their careers, two are wearing Maroon & Gold. Senior forward Dan Coleman is currently the 17th leading scorer in Gopher history with 1,234 points. Fellow senior Lawrence McKenzie has scored 1,263 total points in his collegiate career, 722 as a Gopher following his transfer from the University of Oklahoma.
Player Total Points
Geary Claxton, PSU 1,542
Drew Neitzel, MSU 1,383
D.J. White, IND 1,300
Lawrence McKenzie, MINN 1,263
Dan Coleman, MINN 1,234
Jamar Butler, OSU 1,129
Minnesota’s bench has provided a big punch this season, outscoring its opponents in 19 of the team’s 24 games. The Gophers hold a cumulative 616-381 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, Northwestern 20-10 on Feb. 6 in Evanston and held a 31-7 bench scoring edge over Iowa on Feb. 9.
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.
BIG CROWDS AT THE BARN
The Barn was packed to the limit for a fourth straight game Feb. 9 against Wisconsin, as a sellout crowd of 14,625 was announced. Williams Arena also saw sellouts against Indiana on Jan. 17, against Michigan State on Jan. 20 and against Wisconsin on Feb. 3. 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 12,949 fans per game this season, the highest per game average since 1999-2000 when an average of 13,767 attended Gopher games.
Minnesota has relied heavily on its two freshmen, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber this season.
Nolen is averaging 4.9 points, 3.7 assists, 2.2 steals and 22.1 minutes per game this season. He has tied for or led the Gophers in assists in 13 of the 23 games he has played in, including a career-high eight Feb. 9 vs. Iowa. He has recorded 51 steals (2.2 spg), which ranks him first overall in the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the Big Ten in assists at 3.7 per game and sixth in the conference with a 1.93 assist/turnover ratio.
Hoffarber is averaging 9.1 for the Gophers this season and is shooting .484 (75-155) from the floor, including .466 (54-116) from behind the arc, the highest 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, 15 points in the first start of his Gopher career on Feb. 6 at Northwestern and eight points in another start vs. Iowa on Feb. 9.
FRESHMAN RANKINGS WITHIN THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
Assists Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Michael Thompson, NU 4.6 (2)
2. Al Nolen, MINN 3.7 (7)
3. Kalin Lucas, MSU 3.6 (8)
4. Jeff Peterson, IOWA 3.4 (9)
5. Demetri McCamey, ILL 3.2 (10)
Steals Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Al Nolen, MINN 2.2 (1)
2. Manny Harris, MICH 1.6 (6)
3. Talor Battle, PSU 1.4 (10)
4. Eric Gordon, IND 1.3 (11)
5. Robbie Hummel, PUR 1.2 (14)
3-Point FG % Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Blake Hoffarber, MINN .466 (1)
2. Robbie Hummel, PUR .459 (2)
3. Michael Thompson, NU .439 (4)
4. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR .421 (6)
5. Eric Gordon, IND .400 (9)
3-Point FG Made Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Eric Gordon, IND 2.6 (4)
2. Blake Hoffarber, MINN 2.3 (7)
3. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR 1.7 (12)
4. Michael Thompson, NU 1.6 (13)
5. Jon Diebler, OSU 1.5 (14)
Assist/Turnover Ratio Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Michael Thompson, NU 2.06 (5)
2. Al Nolen, MINN 1.93 (6)
3. Kalin Lucas, MSU 1.59 (10)
4. Demetri McCamey, ILL 1.44 (12)
5. Talor Battle, PSU 1.33 (13)
STAT SHEET FILLER
Minnesota forward Damian Johnson has been filling up the stat sheet all season. The sophomore from Thibodaux, La. started the regular season with a bang, as he came off the bench to score 12 points, grab eight rebounds, block four shots while also stealing four balls, all career highs at the time. He tied a career-high in points on Dec. 1 against UC Riverside while also grabbing seven rebounds, blocking three shots and stealing three balls. Johnson dished out a career-high five assists and tied a career-high with five steals against Ohio State on Jan. 26. He also contributed eight points and six rebounds. Johnson established a new career-high with five blocks against Wisconsin to go along with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal while playing a career-high 34 minutes.
Against Iowa on Feb. 9, Johnson played 31 minutes off the bench and scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and also contributed a team-high seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and an assist. He grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive, against Illinois on Feb. 12 while also scoring nine points, swiping four balls and blocking a shot. Also, Johnson contributed five points, six rebounds and a steal against Wisconsin (2/16).
Johnson is sixth on the team in scoring at 7.2 ppg, second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 rpg, leads the team in blocks with 35 (1.5 bpg) and has the second most steals (45, 1.9 spg), which is fifth most in the conference. Over the last 12 games, all Big Ten Conference games, Johnson has averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 1.4 assists and 25.8 minutes per game while shooting .493 (34-69) from the field.
Johnson helped limit Indiana’s Eric Gordon to 12 points on Jan. 17. Gordon managed just 3-for-8 shooting on the night. It was Gordon’s second lowest total this year, and lowest in Big Ten play. The three field goals were also tied for his second-lowest total of the season. He came into the Jan. 17 contest averaging 23.0 points per game. Johnson forced seven Gordon turnovers, while racking up five steals, three blocks and scored eight points.
After a year at Chicago’s United Center, the Big Ten Tournament returns to Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse for the next five tournaments beginning this season. In its first 10 years of existence, the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament has welcomed more than 950,000 fans and issued over 6,000 media credentials.
Five different league representatives have become Big Ten Tournament champions, with Michigan State (1999, 2000), Illinois (2003, 2005) and Iowa (2001, 2006) claiming the honor twice along with Ohio State (2007) and Wisconsin (2004) capturing one. In addition, every tournament game in the past 10 years has been televised live on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Plus.
2007-08 Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Thursday, March 13
Game 1 #8 Seed vs. #9 Seed Noon ET (Big Ten Network)
Game 2 #7 Seed vs. #10 Seed 2:30 p.m. ET*( ESPN2)
Game 3 #6 Seed vs. #11 Seed 5 p.m. ET* (ESPN2)
Friday, March 14
Game 4 #1 Seed vs. Game 1 Winner Noon ET (ESPN)
Game 5 #4 Seed vs. #5 Seed 2:30 p.m. ET* (ESPN)
Game 6 #2 Seed vs. Game 2 Winner 6:30 p.m. ET* (Big Ten Network)
Game 7 #3 Seed vs. Game 3 Winner 9 p.m. ET* (Big Ten Network)
Saturday, March 15
Game 8 Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner 1:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
Game 9 Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner 4:05 p.m. ET* (CBS)
Sunday, March 16
Game 10 Tournament Championship 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
* Approximate game times