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Trevor Mbakwe Injury Will Force Golden Gophers To Play Small Ball

The Trevor Mbakwe injury will force the Minnesota Golden Gophers to alter their game plan for the remainder of the season. The senior star suffered a torn ACL over the weekend, leaving head coach Tubby Smith very few options as he attempts to keep the men's basketball season on track.

Smith held a press conference on Tuesday to talk about Mbakwe's injury and, while revealing that fellow big man Ralph Sampson III hasn't been able to practice this week, he said that playing a smaller lineup will be likely during the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge.

"We won't change much, we just won't have that inside presence that Trevor gave us because I'm still not sure about Ralph's status," Smith said at the press conference. "(Sampson) didn't practice yesterday, and he probably won't practice today, so he may not play (Wednesday)."

Junior Rodney Williams will probably be moved over to the power forward and Eliott Eliason will start at center if Sampson isn't able to play. Julian Welch has apparently earned the other vacant spot in the starting lineup.

"Rodney's (role) might change a little bit, but it might help him get a rebound putting him at the (power forward) spot," Smith said. "(Welch) played well. I think he'll probably start for us tomorrow, either at the point or the shooting guard. He'll be the guy who we would insert in our starting lineup at this point, based on what he did over the weekend."

The Gophers will play the Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday night.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.