Dec. 21, 2011
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Television/Internet: Gopher All-Access / BTN.com
Matt Nelson (Play-by-Play)
John Focke (Analyst)
Radio: Learfield/1500 ESPN Twin Cities
Mike Grimm (Play-by-Play)
Spencer Tollackson (Analyst)
Series: 27th meeting (25-1)
Series (Home): 26th meeting (24-1)
Current Streak: W-14
Last Meeting: Nov. 24, 2010 (W, 84-65)
Tubby Smith vs. NDSU: Fourth meeting (3-0)
Minnesota vs. Summit League: 62-1
Tubby Smith vs. Summit League: 15-0
GAME DAY TID-BITS:
The Gophers and Bison are meeting for the 26th time in each school's history dating back to a 24-5 Minnesota win on Feb. 16, 1901. NDSU went by "North Dakota Agricultural School" back then.
Minnesota has lost only one game in the all-time series, a 29-33 setback during the 1936-37 season. Since that loss, the Gophers are on a 14-game win streak.
The Bison have already played two Summit League games, a 51-55 loss to Western Illinois and a 84-79 win over IUPUI. The Gophers will open up Big Ten Conference play on Dec. 27.
Minnesota will be looking to go 12-1 during the non-conference schedule, tying the most non-conference wins by the Gophers in the Tubby Smith era. The Gophers also won 12 games during the 2008 non-conference slate and hold a record of 53-7 under Tubby Smith in regular-season non-conference games.
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 176 career swats. Minnesota has blocked 70 shots already this season for an average of 5.8 per game, tops in Big Ten, led by Rodney Williams with 21. Williams is third in the conference with an average of 1.8 bpg.
WILLIAMS 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 and led the team with eight rebounds, five assists & three blocks against Central Michigan.
He has led the team, or tied for the team-lead, in blocks, rebounds & steals in four of the five games played since Mbakwe's injury.
In the five games Williams' numbers have improved across the board:
|FG%||.538 (21-39)||.694 (25-36)|
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 since the injury and sit at 11-1 on the season. At the time of the 11th victory (12/13) Minnesota was the first NCAA D1 team to 11 wins.
Rodney Williams has contributed averages of 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.2 steals and 32.4 minutes per game. Williams blocked a career-high five shots against Appalachian State (12/10).
Junior Julian Welch made his first start as a Gopher against Virginia Tech and led the team with 15 points and four assists. He has led the team in scoring in four of the five games. He is averaging a team-high 14.4 ppg and 3.6 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 12 games of the 2011-12 season, Minnesota is outscoring its opponents at a plus-84 (7.0 average) rate in the second half of games as opposed to a plus-49 (4.1 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 three games this season, .650 (13-20) against Virginia Tech, .609 (14-23) against South Dakota State and .636 (14-22) against Central Michigan.
The Gophers are shooting .561 (152-271) as a team in the second half of games this season.
Ski-U-Mah Weekly: Episode 2
Watch episode two of Ski-U-Mah Weekly with guests Richard Pitino, Sarah Hopkins and Steve Plasencia.
Watch Ski-U-Mah Weekly Live at Noon
Gopher basketball head coach Richard Pitino will appear on Ski-U-Mah Weekly today at Noon on Facebook.
Men's Basketball Pick-Your-Packs On Sale Soon
Gopher Score members will have first access starting September 19, while the general public can order their packs on September 26.