Minnesota will try to avenge and earller season loss as they welcome the Ohio State Buckeyes to Williams Arena. OSU defeated the Gophers 76-60 on Jan. 26 in Columbus thanks to 27 points and nine assists from senior guard Jamar Butler.
The Buckeyes hold a 75-46 edge in the all-time series against the Gophers. Minnesota’s swept the season series during the 2004-05 season, the last two victories for the Gophers in the series.
Ohio State is led by the aforementioned senior guard Jamar Butler, who leads the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game and assists with 6.3 dimes a game. Freshman center Kosta Koufos has also been solid for the Buckeyes, averaging 13.9 points per game this season and leading the team with 7.1 rebounds per game.
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 404-155 in 17 seasons as a head coach (79-43 at Tulsa, 45-19 at Georgia, 263-83 at Kentucky and 17-10 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 second highest three-point field accuracy in Big Ten Conference at .461 (59-128), 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 BY A GOPHER FRESHMAN
Player (Season) 3FGM
Blake Hoffarber (2007-08) 59
Voshon Lenard (1991-92) 51
Kevin Burleson (1999-00) 44
Michael Bauer (2000-01) 34
Quincy Lewis (1995-96) 26
The Gophers defense was strong through the non-conference portion of the schedule and it has continued into the Big Ten schedule. Through 27 games, the Gophers have averaged 9.7 steals per game, tops in the conference, blocked 4.3 shots per game, fifth in the conference, have averaged 21.6 defensive rebounds per game while holding opponents to 63.9 points per game.
Individually, Gopher freshman Al Nolen leads the Gophers and the Big Ten Conference in steals with 2.2 spg while sophomore Damian Johnson holds the team-lead in blocks, swatting 1.4 per game (sixth in the conference).
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 240 points since and currently is 17th place on the career points list with 1,258. 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 his two blocked shots against Penn State on Feb. 24, Coleman now has 106 career blocks, good for ninth place on Minnesota’s all-time list. Coleman has also played in 120 career games, seventh most in team history.
Minnesota’s bench has provided a big punch this season, outscoring its opponents in 21 of the team’s 27 games. The Gophers hold a cumulative 665-434 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 26 of the team’s 27 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.
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 6.9 ppg, second on the team in rebounding at 4.5 rpg, leads the team in blocks with 37 (1.4 bpg) and has the second most steals (48, 1.8 spg), which is fifth most in the conference. Over the last 14 games, all Big Ten Conference games, Johnson has averaged 6.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 1.2 assists and 24 minutes per game while shooting .468 (37-79) 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.
Minnesota has relied heavily on its two freshmen, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber this season.
Nolen is averaging 4.8 points, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 23.1 minutes per game this season. He has tied for or led the Gophers in assists in 15 of the 26 games he has played in, including a career-high eight Feb. 9 vs. Iowa. He has recorded 56 steals (2.2 spg), which ranks him first overall in the Big Ten and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in assists at 3.6 per game and fifth in the conference with a 1.82 assist/turnover ratio.
Hoffarber is averaging 8.9 points for the Gophers this season and is shooting .473 (80-169) from the floor, including .461 (59-128) from behind the arc, the second 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 4.4 (2)
2. Kalin Lucas, MSU 3.8 (5)
3. Al Nolen, MINN 3.6 (8)
4. Jeff Peterson, IOWA 3.3 (9)
5. Demetri McCamey, ILL 3.2 (10)
Steals Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Al Nolen, MINN 2.2 (1)
2. Manny Harris, MICH 1.5 (6)
3. Talor Battle, PSU 1.3 (10)
Eric Gordon, IND 1.3 (10)
Robbie Hummel, PUR 1.3 (10)
3-Point FG % Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Blake Hoffarber, MINN .461 (2)
2. Robbie Hummel, PUR .444 (3)
3. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR .412 (6)
4. Michael Thompson, NU .402 (10)
5. Jordan Crawford, IND .394 (14)
3-Point FG Made Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Eric Gordon, IND 2.4 (5)
2. Blake Hoffarber, MINN 2.2 (9)
3. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR 1.8 (12)
4. Jon Diebler, OSU 1.5 (13)
Assist/Turnover Ratio Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Michael Thompson, NU 2.15 (4)
2. Al Nolen, MINN 1.82 (5)
3. Kalin Lucas, MSU 1.77 (7)
4. Demetri McCamey, ILL 1.41 (10)
5. Talor Battle, PSU 1.35 (13)
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