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Tubby leans heavily on starters in Big Ten play, No. 9 Minnesota gears up for No. 5 Michigan

  • 7f42a02077276c01260f6a706700274e.jpg

    Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith shouts to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana defeated Minnesota 88-81. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (The Associated Press)

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    Indiana's Victor Oladipo (4) puts up a shot against Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe (32) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana defeated Minnesota 88-81. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (The Associated Press)

Tubby Smith drew some criticism in his first five seasons in Minnesota for a substitution pattern that often looked more like a hockey philosophy.

He would run groups of five players in and out, playing his starters almost the same amount of minutes as his bench players. It's a whole new season for No. 9 Minnesota this year.

Smith is leaning heavily on his starting five, especially in conference play. In the four games of Big Ten competition, guard Julian Welch is the only reserve playing more than 10 minutes a game. Three starters are averaging at least 30 minutes a game, with point guard Andre Hollins' 28.5 the lowest number.

The starters will likely be seeing plenty of action on Thursday night when the Gophers host No. 5 Michigan.

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