Dec. 12, 2011
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Time: 8:00 p.m. CT
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Clay Matvick (Play-by-Play)
Dickey Simpkins (Analyst)
Radio: Learfield/1500 ESPN Twin Cities
Mike Grimm (Play-by-Play)
Spencer Tollackson (Analyst)
Series: Third meeting (2-0)
Series (Home): Third meeting (2-0)
Current Streak: 2-0
Last Meeting: Nov. 24, 2007 (W, 77-59)
Tubby Smith vs. CMU: Second meeting (1-0)
Minnesota vs. MAC: 21-4
Tubby Smith vs. MAC: 12-1
GAME DAY TID-BITS
The matchup between the Gophers and Chippewas will be the third between the programs. It will be the second time Tubby Smith has coached against Central Michigan.
The Chippewas traveled to Minneapolis during the 2007 non-conference schedule. It was the third game of the season for Minnesota, its first under the direction of Smith.
Central Michigan is led by sophomore Trey Zeigler, the son of head coach Ernie Zeigler. As a freshman, Zeigler was the third highest scoring newcomer in Division I.
The Chippewas are coming off of a 65-57 loss on Saturday at Tennessee State. Central Michigan hasn't played a home game since a loss to Charlotte on Nov. 15.
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 62 shots already this season for an average of 5.6 per game, tied for the Big Ten lead with Illinois, led by Rodney Williams with 18. Williams is third in the conference with an average of 1.6 bpg.
SAMPSON III RETURNS
Gopher senior co-captain Ralph Sampson III played 19 minutes off the bench against Appalachian State (12/6). He had missed the previous two games with a sprained left ankle. He has missed a total of three games this season with the injury.
Coming into his senior campaign, Sampson had played in 53-straight games. He missed two games during his sophomore season with a sprained right ankle.
Sampson returned to the starting lineup against Saint Peter's (12/10) and led the Gophers in scoring (15), rebounding (8) and blocks (4) and tied for the team lead with four assists.
THE STREAK ENDS
Minnesota junior guard Julian Welch went into the game against Saint Peter's in the midst of a free throw streak He made his first two attempts to bring the streak to 25 straight but missed his next attempt.
Welch's streak of 25-straight was the longest Gopher free throw streak since Lawrence Westbrook hit 31 straight from the charity stripe.
Welch is currently fourth in the Big Ten Conference in free throw percentage at .861 (31-36).
Gopher freshman Andre Hollins is third in the conference at .875 (21-24).
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 three of the four games played since Mbakwe's injury.
In the four games Williams' numbers have improved across the board:
Category Pre-Injury Post-Injury
Minutes (avg.) 26.0 34.2
Points (avg.) 7.7 13.5
FG% .538 (21-39) .697 (23-33)
Rebounds (avg.) 2.7 6.8
Blocks (avg.) 1.0 2.8
Steals (avg.) 1.6 2.5
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 four games without Mbakwe, and sit at 10-1 on the season. At the time of the 10th victory (12/10) Minnesota was the first NCAA D1 team to 10 victories.
Rodney Williams has contributed averages of 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.5 steals and 34.2 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 14.2 ppg and 3.5 assists since being inserted into the starting lineup.
Freshman Elliott Eliason started three of the four games 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 finished with a career-high nine rebounds.
SECOND HALF BURST
Through 11 games of the 2011-12 season, Minnesota is outscoring its opponents at a plus-75 (6.8 average) rate in the second half of games as opposed to a plus-38 (3.5 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 better than 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 .495 (138-279) as a team in the second half of games this season.
Preview: Gophers vs. Georgia Southern
Minnesota welcomes the Eagles to the Barn for a televised Friday night contest.
Northern Illinois Game to Air Live on BTN
Sunday’s men’s basketball game against Northern Illinois will now be televised live on BTN.
Minnesota Downs NJIT, 74-68
Akeem Springs came off the bench to score 19 points and Nate Mason added 18 for Minnesota, which came from behind in the second half and escaped with a 74-68 victory against NJIT.