Gophers Look to Stay Hot against Appalachian State

Go Gophers!
Elliott Eliason started his second-straight game against USC, finishing with a team-high nine rebounds.

Go Gophers!
Elliott Eliason started his second-straight game against USC, finishing with a team-high nine rebounds.
Go Gophers!

Dec. 5, 2011

Minnesota Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Appalachian State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Blog: Coaching Connections

GAME INFORMATION
Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Television: BTN
Eric Collins (Play-by-Play)
Tim Doyle (Analyst)
Radio: Learfield/1500 ESPN Twin Cities
Mike Grimm (Play-by-Play)
Spencer Tollackson (Analyst)

SERIES INFORMATION
Series: First Meeting (1998 Matchup Vacated)
Series Home/Away: N/A
Current Streak: N/A
Last Meeting: 1998 - Vacated
Tubby Smith vs. Appalachian State: 1-0
Minnesota vs. Southern Conference: 10-1
Tubby Smith vs. Southern Conference: 8-1

GAME DAY TID-BITS
• The Gophers and Mountaineers played to open the 1998-99 season, a 81-67 Minnesota victory at Williams Arena, but the game has since been vacated.
• Appalachian State is the third Southern Conference team to travel to Big Ten Country during the 2011-12 season. Wisconsin defeated Wofford and Indiana beat Chattanooga.
• The Mountaineers have already played two Southern Conference games this season, a win over UNC Greensboro and a loss to Georgia Southern. Minnesota opens Big Ten play at Illinois on Dec. 27.  
• Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel is in his second season at the helm of the Mountaineers. Tubby Smith coached against his father Jeff Capel Jr. as a high school coach in North Carolina and as a collegiate coach while at Tulsa. Capel Jr. was the head coach at Old Dominion from 1994-2001.
• 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 50 shots already this season,second in the Big Ten behind Illinois, led by Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney William with 12 apiece.

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 have prevailed in their first two games without Mbakwe, a 58-55 victory over Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30 and a 55-40 win over USC on Dec. 3.
• Junior Rodney Williams has moved to the power forward position and has contributed averages of 13 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.5 blocks and 36.0 minutes per game.
• Junior Julian Welch made his first start as a Gopher against Virginia Tech and led the team with 15 points and four assists. He also led the team with 16 points and a career-high six assists against USC.
• 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) against Virginia Tech. Against USC, Eliason was once again in the starting lineup and finished with a career-high nine rebounds.

SECOND HALF BURST
• Through nine games of the 2011-12 season, Minnesota is outscoring its opponents at a plus-52 (5.8 average) rate in the second half of games as opposed to a plus-25 (2.8 average) in the first half.
• The Gophers largest second half plus-minus of the season is +14, Nov. 14 vs. South Dakota State and Nov. 25 vs. Indiana State.
• Minnesota has only been outscored in the second half twice this season, by four Nov. 21 vs. Mount St. Mary’s and by seven against Dayton.
• The Gophers have been behind at the start of the second half four times this season, including down 10 to DePaul. Minnesota has won three of the four games.
• Minnesota has shot over 60% in the second half of two games this season, .650 (13-20) against Virginia Tech and .609 (14-23) against South Dakota State.
• The Gophers are shooting .502 (113-225) as a team in the second half of games this season.

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 nine 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 9.2 and 7.8 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.