GAME INFORMATION Date: Saturday, December 3, 2011 Time: 1:15 p.m. CT Location: Minneapolis, Minn. Arena: Williams Arena (14,625) Television: BTN Eric Collins (Play-by-Play) Eddie Johnson (Analyst) Radio: Learfield/1500 ESPN Twin Cities Mike Grimm (Play-by-Play) Spencer Tollackson (Analyst)
SERIES INFORMATION Series: Fifth Meeting (2-2) Series Home/Away: 1-0/1-2 Current Streak: W-2 Last Meeting: W, 76-58 (3/24/93 - NIT) Tubby Smith vs. Southern Cal: First Meeting Minnesota vs. PAC 12: 36-26 Tubby Smith vs. PAC 12: 13-4
GAME DAY TID-BITS: • The Gophers and USC Trojans will be meeting for the fifth time and the first since the 1993 NIT. The Gophers won that game 76-58. • This will be the first trip for the Trojans to Williams Arena. The 1993 NIT game was played at the Met Center in Bloomington. Williams Arena renovation had already begun forcing the Gophers to the Bloomington site. It was one of the last events played at the Met Center. • USC Head Coach Kevin O‘Neill will be making his first trip to Williams Arena since the 2000 Big Ten Conference season when he was at the helm of the Northwestern Wildcats. Minnesota won that game 69-60. • O’Neill went 2-4 against Gophers in his three years at Northwestern with one of the wins coming at Williams Arena. • Minnesota has led the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots during the last three seasons, including three of the top four season block totals in the history of the Gopher program: a program leading 201 in 2008-09, 199 in 2009-10 and 169 last season. Senior Ralph Sampson III led the team in blocked shots last season and is currently fourth all-time in program history with 172 career swats. Minnesota has blocked 39 shots already this season,second in the Big Ten behind Illinois, led by Trevor Mbakwe with 12.
PICKING UP THE SLACK: • Minnesota will have to play out the season without its senior forward Trevor Mbakwe, a Preseason All-American, following a knee injury. He was averaging a team-high 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. • The Gophers’ first game without Mbakwe was a victory over Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30. • Junior Rodney Williams moved to the power forward position and contributed 14 points, a game-high eight rebounds and two blocks in the victory. • Junior Julian Welch made his first start as a Gopher and led the team with 15 points and four assists. • Freshman Elliott Eliason started in the place of the also injured Ralph Sampson III and contributed career-highs in minutes played (32), points (8), rebounds (7) and blocks (2).
GOPHERS LOSE MBAKWE FOR THE SEASON: • Minnesota senior forward, a co-captain, will miss the remainder of the season following a tear to the ACL in his right knee. • Mbakwe suffered the injury in the second half of the Old Spice Classic championship game against Dayton. • Surgery has notyet been scheduled but will occur in the coming weeks.
REVAMPED ROSTER: The Gophers are now without six players from last season that combined to play in nearly 500 career NCAA basketball games, led by Blake Hoffarber who played a Gopher record 132 career games.
Through eight games this season Tubby Smith has played seven players that came into the season with zero games played in a Minnesota uniform - three true freshmen, a pair of redshirt freshmen and two junior college transfers.
Junior College transfer Julian Welch and true freshman Andre Hollins are averaging 8.4 and 8.2 points, respectively, to lead the Gopher “new” players. Welch made his first Gopher start against Virginia Tech and contributed a team-high 15 points in the victory. Hollins has started every game this season and already has three double-figure scoring games.
GOPHERS IN THE NON-CONFERENCE: • The Gophers have opened the season with a victory in 20 straight seasons following a loss to Arkansas in the first game of the Maui Invitational to kickoff the 1991-92 season. • Tubby Smith has opened 10 straight seasons with a victory, dating back to a loss to Western Kentucky to begin the 2001-02 season. • Minnesota has a combined record of 47-7 under Tubby Smith in regular-season non-conference games after an a 7-1 start this season. The Gophers went 11-1 last season, were a perfect 12-0 to start the 2008-09 season, went 10-2 during the 2007-08 non-conference slate and finished the 2009-10 non-conference 9-3. • The Gophers are off to a 5-0 start in their non-conference schedule at Williams Arena. Under Smith, Minnesota is 36-1 in regular season non-conference games at the Barn. • Smith is 58-17 (.773) overall at Williams arena during his four-plus seasons at Minnesota. • Minnesota is allowing just 61.1 points per game at Williams arena under Smith (75 games). Under Smith, opponents have only reached 70 points 17 times in the 75 games at the Barn (22% of the time).