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(Sports Network) - Jared Sullinger collected 18 points and 13 rebounds to power top-ranked Ohio State to an 82-69 win over 18th-ranked Minnesota at Williams Arena.
David Lighty provided 19 points and William Buford chipped in 15 -- both also had four assists -- as all five starters scored in double figures for the Buckeyes (24-0, 11-0 Big Ten), who have won 28 regular season games dating back to last year.
Blake Hoffarber totaled 16 points and five rebounds, while Ralph Sampson III and Chip Armelin supplied 14 points for the Golden Gophers (16-7, 5-6), who have dropped three in a row after putting together a four-game win streak.
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Ohio State 16-0, Minnesota 11-1. Away Record: Ohio State 7-0, Minnesota 2-5. Neutral Record: Ohio State 0-0, Minnesota 3-0. Conference Record: Ohio State 10-0, Minnesota 5-5. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 77-55.
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes figure to be tested in today's Big Ten Conference road clash with the 18th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Buckeyes were most recently in action on Thursday night when they knocked off rival Michigan in a 62-53 final. With a 23-0 record and a 10-0 mark in Big Ten play, Ohio State owns the No. 1 ranking in the nation for the third consecutive week. The Buckeyes are atop the rankings for the second time under head coach Thad Matta, who directed the program to a 35-4 record and a spot in the national title game during the 2006-07 season. The longest winning streak in program history was 32 games which occurred over the course of two seasons a half century ago.
Minnesota clearly needs a victory to get back on track, as it has suffered back-to-back losses to fall to 5-5 in Big Ten action, overshadowing a far more impressive 16-6 overall record. Last Wednesday, the Golden Gophers weren't able to do enough at the offensive end in a 60-57 loss to Indiana on the road. There is some reason for confidence tonight, however, as 11 of the 12 home games to date for Minnesota have resulted in wins.
Ohio State owns a 77-55 series lead over Minnesota, which includes a 67-64 triumph over the Golden Gophers in Columbus last month.
Through 23 outings, Ohio State leads the nation is scoring margin (+20.4 ppg), proof of the squad's dominance. While the Buckeyes are generating a healthy 77.7 ppg on 49.8 percent shooting from the field, it is limiting opponents to 57.3 ppg on 41.1 percent efficiency. There is no shortage of talent on the roster, although freshman phenom Jared Sullinger does steal most of the headlines. A 58.2 percent shooter from the floor, Sullinger is netting 18.0 ppg to go along with 10.0 rpg. William Buford (13.5 ppg), David Lighty (12.2 ppg) and Jon Diebler (11.2 ppg) are all experienced and consistent contributors, while freshman point guard Aaron Craft leads the way with 107 assists and 40 steals. Sullinger scored 19 points and ripped down 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of action against Michigan on Wednesday. Buford tallied 13 points for the Buckeyes, who earned a 36-28 rebounding advantage and a 15-1 edge in points from the foul line.
The Golden Gophers have played 22 games to date, and they are scoring 72.0 ppg while permitting 67.3 ppg to opponents on 39.4 percent field goal efficiency. Clearly, strong defense is the calling card for Tubby Smith's squad. Blake Hoffarber paces Minnesota offensively with his 14.1 ppg, and he is tops with 90 assists as well. Trevor Mbakwe checks in with 13.3 ppg on 60.7 percent field goal efficiency, and he is grabbing 10.5 rpg as well. As for Ralph Sampson III, he adds 10.7 ppg to the mix. Hoffarber scored 15 points against Indiana on Wednesday, and Austin Hollins registered 13 points off the bench. Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, they only connected on 37 percent of their field goal attempts and missed half of their 22 free throws.
Ohio State will extend the nation's longest active winning streak to 24 games with a narrow triumph over Minnesota today. It is hard to doubt the Buckeyes, who have all the ingredients necessary for an NCAA title run.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 72, Minnesota 68
The win gave the Hoosiers (12-11, 3-7 Big Ten) their second victory against a ranked opponent in a week. Indiana topped then-No. 20 Illinois last Thursday before losing in overtime to then 25th-ranked Michigan State on Sunday.
"As I said to them, when you can develop real belief, you have a chance to go on and do really big things," Indiana coach Tom Crean said of his team. "When the team plays on edge and continues to develop belief, they are going to keep getting better."
Blake Hoffarber paced Minnesota (16-6, 5-5) with 15 points. Austin Hollins added 13 points and Ralph Sampson III scored 10 to go along with nine rebounds for the Golden Gophers, who have dropped back-to-back games for the second time this season.
The Hoosiers held an 11-point lead at 55-44 after a pair of Hulls free throws with 5:29 remaining. However, a Sampson layup on the next possession began a 10-0 Minnesota run, capped by a Hollins free throw with 3:05 remaining.
Trevor Mbakwe missed two layups with a chance to give the Golden Gophers the lead, and after Jones grabbed the rebound on the second shot, he was sent to the line at the 3:01 mark, making both to put Indiana up 57-54.
Jones then connected on a long three-pointer to widen the Hoosiers lead back to six. Hoffarber was off-target on a three attempt, and Colton Iverson made 1-of-2 from the line following the rebound to cut the Minnesota deficit to 60-55.
After Jones committed a costly turnover just inside the final minute, Chip Armelin's jumper with 43 seconds remaining made it a one-possession game.
Hulls attempted to put the game away with a jumper, but after the shot went wide left the Gophers were given one last chance down the court in the final 10 seconds. However, Hoffarber's three-point attempt from the corner just before the buzzer was off target.
"Well we sure have to compliment and commend Indiana. They came out ready to play," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "They were aggressive and took a fight to us early in the game and really out worked us in the first half."
Pritchard led Indiana with eight points and six rebounds in the first half as the Hoosiers shot 43.8 percent from the field for a 33-21 lead at the break. The Golden Gophers shot unusually poor in the first half, only connecting on 7-of-26 attempts and a paltry 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Indiana leads the all-time series 93-65...Mbakwe added seven points and nine rebounds for Minnesota...The Golden Gophers held a 36-35 rebounding advantage but allowed Indiana to convert 10 turnovers into 18 points...Indiana never trailed in the game.
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (17,456) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Minnesota 11-1, Indiana 11-2. Away Record: Minnesota 2-4, Indiana 0-7. Neutral Record: Minnesota 3-0, Indiana 0-2. Conference Record: Minnesota 5-4, Indiana 2-7. Series Record: Indiana leads, 92-65.
GAME NOTES: The 18th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers will attempt to get back to their winning ways today as they battle Big Ten foe Indiana in Bloomington.
Minnesota carried an impressive four-game win streak into Saturday's road clash with a strong Purdue squad, and the result was a 73-61 defeat. The setback dropped the Golden Gophers to 16-5 overall and 5-4 in conference. They enter tonight's game with a 2-4 record in true road games, not exactly a reason for confidence.
As for Indiana, it has lost three of its last four games to plummet to 2-7 in Big Ten action, overshadowing a respectable 11-11 overall mark. Sunday's loss was particularly hard to swallow, as the Hoosiers fell to Michigan State on the road in an 84-83 final in overtime. On a positive note for Indiana, it is 11-2 at home this season and figures to play with confidence tonight.
The Golden Gophers defeated the Hoosiers by a 67-63 final in early January, overshadowing the fact that Indiana owns a 92-65 series advantage over Minnesota.
While the Gophers certainly weren't dominated by Purdue on Saturday, there are a few obvious reasons that they fell short in that contest. Minnesota was outrebounded by a 37-32 margin and outscored 17-12 from the foul line. Also problematic was the fact that the Gophers hit only three shots from behind the arc while Purdue drained 10 three-pointers. Trevor Mbakwe posted 17 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in the loss for Minnesota, which got 14 points from Blake Hoffarber and 11 points from Ralph Sampson III. Hoffarber is netting 14.0 ppg this season on the strength of his 40.2 percent shooting from three- point range, and he also paces the club with 89 assists. Mbakwe adds 13.6 ppg and 10.6 rpg, and he is a 61.4 percent shooter from the floor. Sampson adds balance to the lineup with 10.8 ppg for Minnesota, which is generating 72.8 ppg while allowing 67.6 ppg to opponents.
Indiana shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half and 56.5 percent in the second half against Michigan State on Sunday, including a combined 11- of-16 effort from three-point range in regulation. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they completely lost their shooting touch in the extra session, hitting only 2-of-10 field goal attempts, including an 0-of-5 showing from behind the arc. Christian Watford led the way in defeat with 21 points, and Jordan Hulls contributed 17 points. Matt Roth posted 12 points, Victor Oladipo added 11 points and Jeremiah Rivers rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. Through 22 contests, Watford paces his team with 17.0 ppg, and his 5.8 rpg are tops as well. Verdell Jones III (12.9 ppg), who sat out Sunday's game with a knee injury, may be out of action again tonight and figures to be less than 100 percent if he does play. The Hoosiers are scoring 73.9 ppg while allowing 67.6 ppg to foes.
While Indiana has the advantage of playing at home tonight, Minnesota is the better team and will win narrowly. Mbakwe and Sampson will be too much for the Hoosiers to contend with in the paint.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 69, Indiana 67
The Gophers suffered a tough loss on Saturday against Purdue, and will probably drop a bit when this week's rankings come out, but are still currently in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten with Penn State and Michigan State. The Gophers' 16-5 overall record is significantly better than that of the Spartans (13-8) or the Nittany Lions (12-8), which would put them at a higher seed in the Big Ten Tournament if the season ended today. . .but, the season doesn't end today, and the Gophers still have to battle for one of those top seeds. They'll have two opportunities to do just that this week.
Their first game of this week will happen on Wednesday night, with a trip to Assembly Hall to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers have an overall record of 11-11, but they currently have a dismal 2-7 mark in the Big Ten Conference. One of those seven losses was a 67-63 defeat at the hands of the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis back on January 4. Tip-off for this one is scheduled for 5:30 PM Central time, and you'll be able to find television coverage for this one on the Big Ten Network.
On Sunday afternoon, the Gophers will play host to the top ranked team in the nation, the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are one of the country's few remaining undefeated teams, having been victorious in their first 22 games of this season, including a 9-0 record in the Big Ten. They got a scare from the Gophers in Columbus back on January 9, but the Buckeyes managed to pull out a 67-64 victory to keep their record unblemished. Tip-off for this one is schedule for 1:00 PM Central time at The Barn, and will be televised on ESPN.
You can also hear the action for both of these games on the radio with WCCO-AM 830.
Best of luck to the Gophers this week as they continue the push on towards March.