Minnesota Hosts Saint Peter's on Saturday in a Mid-Day Matchup

Go Gophers! Julian Welch Contributed his sixth-straight double-digit scoring game with 15 points against Appalachian State on Tuesday.
Go Gophers!
Julian Welch Contributed his sixth-straight double-digit scoring game with 15 points against Appalachian State on Tuesday.
Go Gophers!

Dec. 9, 2011

Minnesota Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Saint Peter's Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Blog: Williams Flourishing in Mbakwe's Absence

GAME INFORMATION
Date: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m. CT
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Television: BTN.com
Matt Nelson (Play-by-Play)
Quincy Lewis (Analyst)
Radio: Learfield/1500 ESPN Twin Cities
Mike Grimm (Play-by-Play)
Spencer Tollackson (Analyst)

SERIES INFORMATION
Series: First meeting
Series (Home): First meeting
Current Streak: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
Tubby Smith vs. St. Peter’s: First meeting
Minnesota vs. MAAC: 5-3
Tubby Smith vs. MAAC: 6-0

GAME DAY TID-BITS:
• The matchup between the Gophers and Peacocks will be the first between the programs as well as the first for Tubby Smith against the New Jersey school as a head coach.
• Saint Peter’s is the second MAAC opponent this season for the Gophers. Minnesota defeated Fairfield, 67-57, on Nov. 17.
• The Peacocks have already played two MAAC games this season, a win over Siena and a loss last time out to Manhattan College. Minnesota opens Big Ten play at Illinois on Dec. 27.  
• Saint Peter’s is the reigning MAAC Tournament champions. The Peacocks finished in fourth place during the regular season with a conference record of 11-7 and went 20-14 overall. Saint Peter’s lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Purdue.
• 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 56 shots already this season,second in the Big Ten behind Illinois, led by Rodney Williams with 17.

THE BEGINNING OF A STREAK:
• Minnesota junior guard Julian Welch is in the midst of a free throw streak, in that he has connected on 23-straight freebies since missing two at the end of the DePaul game.
• This is the longest Gopher free throw streak since Lawrence Westbrook hit 31 straight from the charity stripe.
• Welch leads the Big Ten Conference in free throw percentage at .933 (28-30).
• Terrance Woods (1986-87) holds the Gopher season free throw percentage record at .882 (45-51).
• The Gophers career free throw percentage leader is Voshon Lenard (.810).

WILLIAMS IS SHOWING HIS VERSATILITY:
• Minnesota foward Rodney Williams has adapted well since being moved to the power forward position following the loss of Trevor Mbakwe.
• Williams tied a career high against Appalacian State with 18 points & five blocks.
• He has led the team, or tied for the team-lead, in blocks, rebounds & steals in all three games.
• In the three games that have followed Mbakwe’s injury, Williams’ numbers have improved across the board:

Category Pre-Injury Post-Injury
Minutes (avg.) 26.0 36.0
Points (avg.) 7.7 14.7
FG% .538 (21-39)  .792 (19-24)
Rebounds (avg.) 2.7 7.7
Blocks (avg.) 1.0 3.3
Steals (avg.) 1.6 2.3


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 three games without Mbakwe, a 58-55 victory over Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30, a 55-40 win over USC on Dec. 3 and a 70-56 win over Appalachian State on Tuesday.
Rodney Williams has contributed averages of 14.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 2.3 steals and 36.0 minutes per game. Williams blocked a career-high five shots against Appalachian State.
• 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. He is averaging a team-high 15.3 ppg since being inserted into the starting lineup.
• 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 10 games of the 2011-12 season, Minnesota is outscoring its opponents at a plus-64 (6.4 average) rate in the second half of games as opposed to a plus-27 (2.87 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 on Nov. 21 vs. Mount St. Mary’s and by seven against Dayton in Orlando.
• The Gophers have been behind at the start of the second half four times this season, including down 10 points 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 .506 (126-249) as a team in the second half of games this season.