The 13th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers continue a four-game homestand and close out their non-conference schedule in the process, when they get back to work against the Lafayette Leopards on Saturday evening.
Tubby Smith's Gophers are an impressive 11-1 on the season and bring a seven- game win streak into this contest. The team's lone loss came on Nov. 22 against now top-ranked Duke and most recently, opened up its current homestand with a 70-57 victory over North Dakota State on Dec. 11.
The Leopards started the season slow with losses in five of the first six games. Fran O'Hanlon's squad has righted the ship a little bit, posting back- to-back wins over Sacred Heart (72-70) and most recently, Arcadia (86-62). Lafayette has won three of its last four games, overall.
This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
The Leopards took a 23-point lead into halftime and cruised to their fourth straight home victory with a lopsided decision over Arcadia. Lafayette shot a sterling 60 percent from the floor and held a 33-24 advantage on the boards. Dan Trist and Seth Hinrichs led the way offensively, with 14 points apiece. Bryce Scott also finished in double figures in the win, tallying 10 points.
Lafayette has struggled with consistency this season and it has shown in the team's -6.7 scoring margin. The offensive numbers aren't so bad at 68.8 ppg on .446 shooting, but the defensive numbers aren't pretty. Foes are averaging a hefty 75.5 ppg this year and doing so on .491 shooting. Despite the modest scoring, three of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by Trist's 14.8 ppg. Hinrichs is a close second in the scoring column at 14.3 ppg. Tony Johnson rounds out the top threats with 11.0 ppg.
It's been 11 days since Minnesota was last on the floor, as the Golden Gophers dominated North Dakota State on the boards (43-26) in a 13-point win. Trevor Mbakwe was instrumental in the win, recording his 25th career double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Rodney Williams led the team in scoring with 19 points, while Andre Hollins added 11 points, while dishing out six assists.
Minnesota has provided plenty of scoring this season, averaging 76.0 ppg on a healthy .466 shooting. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, a testament to the team's scoring depth and balance. Andre Hollins leads the charge at 13.5 ppg and is also tops on the team in assists (43). Williams is one of the Big Ten's most versatile players, averaging 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman round out the top scorers with 11.2 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.