Minnesota and Santa Clara have met only twice before in each school’s history with the Gophers winning both matchups, 73-63 during the 1990-91 season and 87-63 duirng the 1992-93 season.
Santa Clara (7-4) is led by junior center John Bryant who is averaging 20.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
The Gophers have an all-time record of 4-2 against teams in the West Coast Conference; 0-1 vs. Gonzaga, 1-0 vs. Loyola Marymount, 1-1 vs. St. Mary’s and 2-0 against the Broncos. Minnesota hasn’t played against the other four teams that make up the WCC, Pepperdine, Portland, San Diego and San Francisco. Tubby Smith is 2-0 all-time vs. teams in the WCC, 1-0 against Santa Clara.
Minnesota is 11-0 all-time against South Dakota State, and 2-0 against the Summit League this season.
The Gophers remain undefeated this season at home (6-0).
Minnesota has started 7-1 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Minnesota shot a season-high 56.2 percent (27-48) from the field.
The Golden Gophers tied a season-high with 24 assists. Minnesota also had 24 assists on Dec. 8 against Colorado State. The Golden Gophers have tallied 48 assists in their last two contests.
Minnesota has had a bench player score in double figures in seven of the last eight games.
Garrett Callahan’s 28 points were the most by a Golden Gopher opponent this year.
Dan Coleman scored a season-high 24 points.
Coleman had back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in his career.
Coleman has scored in double-figures five times this year, and 53 times in his career.
Coleman has shot 71.4 percent (20-for-28) over the last two games. He is 27-for-47 (57.4 pct) in the last three.
Coleman is averaging 19.3 ppg in three games against South Dakota State.
Spencer Tollackson scored in double figures for the fifth time this year and the 30th time in the career.
Tollackson was 4-for-5 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, and hit his last five free throws.
Tollackson is 18-for-24 (.750) in three career games against South Dakota State, and averages 15.2 ppg against the Jackrabbits.
Lawrence McKenzie had a season-high six assists on the night.
Damian Johnson tied a career-high with four blocks.
Johnson has multiple blocks in five of eight games this year.
Blake Hoffarber had a career-high six assists in the game. Hoffarber has 10 assists in the last two games.
Hoffarber has multiple three-point field goals in seven of eight games. He is 15-for-30 from three-point range his last four games.
COLEMAN JOINS 1,000 POINT CLUB; NEARING OTHERS
Senior Dan Coleman became just the 34th player in school history to record 1,000 career points, thanks to a 22-point effort in the Gophers 91-74 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 8. Coleman added a season-high 24 points on Dec. 12 vs. South Dakota State and currently sits in 30th place on the career points list with 1,032. Mychal Thompson (1974-78) sits atop the list with 1,992 career points.
Also, Coleman is just 32 rebounds shy of 500 boards in his career. He will become just the 17th Gopher player with 1,000 points and 500 boards in his career. Michael Bauer was the last Gopher to join the club, reaching the milestone in 2004. Coleman also has 85 career blocks, just eight shy of Minnesota’s top-10.
Minnesota’s bench has provided a big punch this season, outscoring its opponents in each of the eight games this year. The Gophers hold a cumulative 270-120 bench scoring edge on its foes including a 30-1 advantage over Iowa State on Nov. 20, a 27-4 advantage over UC Riverside on Dec. 1, a 41-7 edge over North Dakota State on Dec. 3, a 44-27 margin against Colorado State and a 26-13 edge on Dec. 12 vs. South Dakota State.
A Gopher has scored at least nine points off the bench in every game, led by Blake Hoffarber’s 21 points against Colorado State. Damian Johnson scored 10 points off the bench against South Dakota State to keep the streak in tact. Lawrence McKenzie’s scored 20 points off the bench against Iowa State; Johnson chipped in a career-high 12 points against Army; Hoffarber scored 12 off the bench against Florida State while Hoffarber and Johnson chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively, off the bench against UC Riverside. Al Nolen had 15 to lead the Gophers against NDSU.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
At this time last year, the Gophers were 3-5 but that is not the only major difference between the two seasons. Minnesota is averaging 14.5 more points per game this season (77.8-63.3) while allowing 5.5 points less per game (60.5-66.0).
Minnesota has relied heavily on its two freshmen, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber in the early part of the season.
Nolen is averaging 9.7 points, 3.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 20.7 minutes per game over the last three games while shooting .600 (9-15) from the field. He has tied for or led the Gophers in assists in six of the eight games and has recorded 20 steals, which ranks him first overall in the Big Ten at 2.5 thefts per game. Nolen is also tied for seventh in the Big Ten in assists at 3.9 assists per game and holds the sixth-best three-point percentage in the Big Ten at .471.
Hoffarber is averaging 13 points off the bench for the Gophers over the last five games and is shooting .511 (23-45) from the floor, including .472 (17-36) from behind the arc. He scored a season-high 21 points, hitting 6-of-11 three pointers, off the bench Dec. 8 against Colorado State. Hoffarber also came off the bench to contribute 13 points Dec. 1 against UC Riverside, 10 points against North Dakota State on Dec. 3 and nine points Dec. 12 against South Dakota State. The Hopkins native is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.4 ppg and has the seventh-best three-point percentage in the Big Ten at .463.
STAT SHEET FILLER
Minnesota forward Damian Johnson has been filling up the stat sheet all season. The sophomore from Thibodaux, La. started the regular season with a bang, as he came off the bench to score 12 points, grab eight rebounds, block four shots while also stealing four balls, all career highs. He tied a career-high in points on Dec. 1 against UC Riverside while also grabbing seven rebounds, blocking three shots and stealing three balls. Johnson is fifth on the team in scoring at 7.8 ppg, tied for second in rebounding at 5.5 rpg, leads the team in blocks with 15 (1.9 bpg) and has the third most steals (11). His per game averages are all career-highs.