Gophers take No. 6 Seed into Big Ten Tournament:
- Minnesota will be the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and face No. 11 seed Penn State on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. (CT) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
- Minnesota is a No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the third time (1999-2002-2008) and holds a 3-3 record.
- The Gophers are 6-5 all-time in Big Ten Tournament first round games and 9-12 overall.
- Tubby Smith is 31-12 in conference tournament action as a head coach and is 3-2 at Minnesota. He has won at least one game in 14 of 16 conference tournaments.
- The Gophers are facing the Nittany Lions for the second time in the history of the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota defeated PSU 84-60 in the opening round of the 2002 event, also as the sixth seed.
- This will be the third meeting of the season between the Gophers and Nittany Lions. Minnesota won both matchups during the regular season, 75-70 on Dec. 29 at Williams Arena and 66-64 on Feb. 6 in State College. The Gophers needed a Lawrence Westbrook step-back jumper at the buzzer to win the Feb. 6 contest.
- Westbrook tied a career-high with 29 points against PSU in the first matchup of the season.
About the Golden Gophers:
- Golden Gopher Head Coach Tubby Smith's all-time record stands at 447-182 (18th Season) while his Minnesota record is 60-37 (Third Season)
- The Gophers are among the nation's leaders in many statistical categories. As of the NCAA's most recent stats (Through games of March 7), Minnesota is 4th in assists per game (17.1), 9th in three-point FG percentage (.401), 15th in assist turnover ratio (1.36), 17th in blocked shots (5.7) and 42rd in steals per game (8.1).
- Individually, Blake Hoffarber is second in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.481) and 69th in three-point field goals per game (2.5). Also, Damian Johnson is first in the Big Ten Conference and sits 49th nationally with 1.9 steals per game.
- Minnesota leads the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots (171: 5.7 bpg), steals (244: 8.1 spg) and three-point field goal percentage (.401), is second in the league in defensive field goal percentage (.400) and third in field goal percentage (.474).
- Lawrence Westbrook leads Minnesota in scoring for the season with a career-high 12.9 points per game. He joined the Gophers' 1,000 point club with a pair of free throws in the second half against Michigan State on Jan. 23. He enters the Big Ten Tournament with 1,137 career points, which is 24th on the Gophers' all-time scoring list.
- Westbrook has scored 20 or more points seven times in his Gopher career, all Minnesota wins, including a career-high 29 points in a win over Wisconsin last season and against Penn State this season at Williams Arena.
- Hoffarber is averaging a career-high 10.7 ppg this season and is shooting .514 (109-212) from the field and .481 (76-158) from three-point land, also career highs. His 76 treys for the season is just three shy of the single-season record of 79 by Lawrence McKenzie (2007-08).
- Hoffarber, a junior, hit two treys against Iowa in the regular-season finale, giving him 191 for his career. That ties Michael Bauer for first all-time on the Gophers' career list.
- Ralph Sampson III is the Gophers' leading rebounder with a career-high 6.2 boards per game. He has led the team in rebounding in 12 of the team's 30 games.
- Al Nolen will miss the rest of the season after being declared academically ineligible by the NCAA.
- Minnesota finished 9-9 in Big Ten Conference play for the second-consecutive season, its first back-to-back .500 or better conference seasons since 2001-02 & 2002-03.
About the Nittany Lions:
- Ed DeChellis is in his 7th season as the head coach at Penn State, his alma matter.
- Penn State went 27-11 in 2008-09 and defeated Baylor 69-63 to win the NIT title.
- Talor Battle leads the team in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg) assists (4.2 apg) and minutes played (37.0 mpg). He was a member of the 2009 All-Big Ten First Team was named All-Big Ten Second Team this season.
- The Nittany Lions are coming off of a 64-60 loss against Purdue on March 6. PSU finished the regular season 11-19 overall and 3-15 in Big Ten play.
- Minnesota is 18-4 against Penn State all-time.
- The Gophers are 1-0 against the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Tournament (2002 BTT - #6 UM 84, #11 PSU 60).
- Minnesota swept the season series with PSU, 75-70 on Dec.29 at Williams Arena and 66-64 on Feb. 6 in Happy Valley. Lawrence Westbrook tied a career-high with 29 points in the game at the Barn and hit a buzzer-beater at the Bryce Jordan Center for the two-point win on Feb. 6.
- Minnesota holds a record of 685-736 all-time within the Big Ten Conference.
- Tubby Smith is 5-2 against Penn State as a head coach.
Tubby's Tourneys: Head Coach Tubby Smith has had great success in conference tournament action. He holds a 31-12 (.721) all-time mark in tourney play. He has won five conference tournaments, all at Kentucky (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004). He has won at least one game in 14 of 16 conference tournaments. His Kentucky Wildcats did not win a game in 2000 and 2002. Smith guided the Gophers into the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in his first season in Minneapolis, picking up wins over #11 Northwestern and #3 Indiana. The Gophers made it to the quarterfinals as an eighth seed last year after an opening round win over ninth seeded Northwestern.
VIP Johnson - All-Around player: Minnesota forward Damian Johnson continues to show that he is an well rounded player. He contributed a career-high 11 assists to go along with 10 points, three blocks and three steals against Iowa on March 7. It was Johnson's fourth career double-double. The 11 assists are the most for a Gopher wing player since J.B. Bickerstaff distributed 10 dimes against Hawaii-Pacific during the 2000-01 season. Also, he is the first Gopher wing player to do so in a Big Ten Conference game since Ray Williams finished with 11 assists at Ohio State during the 1976 conference schedule.
By the Numbers with Damian Johnson:
- Has averaged 25.8 minutes this season
- Has at least one block in 23-of-30 games this season
- Has collected at least one steal in 26-of-30 games this season
- Leads the Big Ten with 1.9 steals per game
- Is third in the Big Ten Conference with 1.9 blocks per game
- Currently 2nd on Gophers all-time steals list with 189
- Currently 3rd on Gophers all-time blocks list with 181
- Scored in double-figures 43 times in his career
Last season (2008-09), Johnson averaged a then career-high in points (9.8 ppg), blocks (2.0 bpg), assists (1.6 apg), steals (1.9 spg) and minutes (26.7 mpg) to go along with 4.2 rebounds per game. Also, he swatted at least one shot in 26 of the 30 games he played last season, finishing with 60 blocks, the eighth highest total in Gopher History.
In 2007-08, Johnson played in all 34 games (6 starts) and finished sixth on the team in scoring at 7.1 ppg, second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 rpg, led the team in blocks with 46 (1.4 bpg) and had the second most steals (59, 1.7 spg), which was fifth-most in the conference.
Johnson was the only player in the Big Ten Conference to rank in the top-10 in blocks and steals and was only one of two forwards in the conference to appear in the top-10 in steals during the 2008-09 season (Kevin Coble-Northwestern).
Freebies: Minnesota guard Lawrence Westbrook has quietly become one of the best free-throw shooters to ever play for the Golden Gophers. The senior has currently connected on 28-straight free throws since missing one on Jan. 9 against Ohio State at Williams Arena.
Westbrook has a career free-throw percentage of .808 (227-281) which is the third-best percentage in the history of the program. Voshon Lenard sits atop the list with a career percentage of .810. Westbrook also owns the 8th highest single-season percentage in Gopher history at .833 (95-114), having done that as a junior. If the season ended today, he would also own the fifth highest percentage, as he is currently shooting .848 (56-66) from the line.