Buckeyes set sights on Gophers in Big Ten brawl

11:25 AM, Feb 14, 2012   |    comments
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Minneapolis, MN - The sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will try bounce back from their poorest outing of the season as they head to Williams Arena to take on Tubby Smith's Minnesota Golden Gophers in a Big Ten Conference matchup.

This is the only scheduled contest between Ohio State and Minnesota this season. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 80-49 and they currently hold a four-game winning streak over the Golden Gophers.

Thad Matta's team lost sole possession of first place in the Big Ten's standings on Saturday as it fell 58-48 to the Michigan State Spartans, who the Buckeyes are now tied with atop the conference. Ohio State submitted season-lows in points (48), field goal percentage (26.4), and three-point percentage (13.3) in the losing effort. The defeat snapped a six-game winning streak. The Buckeyes have not lost consecutive games yet this season. Ohio State cannot afford to lose tonight as it still has to play three ranked opponents in addition to Illinois, which knocked off OSU earlier this season.

All-American Jared Sullinger leads the charge for Ohio State with averages of 17.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg. The star sophomore recorded a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds versus Michigan State. Sullinger has now recorded 11 double-doubles this season. William Buford and Deshaun Thomas are both quality players for the Buckeyes as they each have scoring averages near 15 ppg. Aaron Craft leads the Buckeyes in both assists (4.6) and steals (2.2).

Tubby Smith has seen an improvement in his team's play as it comes in with a 17-8 overall record. The Golden Gophers lost 68-61 to the nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers in overtime their last time out, which dropped their league record to 5-7. Despite the loss, Minnesota shot 41.8 percent from the field against the Badgers' stifling defense. Wisconsin shot only 35.8 percent from the floor in the same contest. Minnesota is four games out of first place in the Big Ten standings coming into today's bout. The Golden Gophers have outscored their opponents by an average of 5.4 ppg this season, which ranks in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

Since losing its leading scorer Trevor Mbakwe for the season after just seven games, Minnesota has relied on its depth to power past opponents. 10 different players are playing more than 10 minutes per game. Rodney Williams is pacing the team with 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Julian Welch is second on the team in scoring with 10.1 ppg. In their recent loss to Wisconsin, Andre Hollins came up big off the bench with 20 points as he knocked down 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

 

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