With both teams fresh off wins, the Iowa Hawkeyes and the 23rd-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers attempt to keep the momentum going on Sunday afternoon as the two square off in a Big Ten Conference bout at Williams Arena.
Iowa halted a two-game slide on Thursday night with a 76-67 triumph at home over last-place Penn State to improve its Big Ten record to 3-5. Despite their disappointing conference mark, the Hawkeyes' season as a whole has been rather impressive, winning twice as many games as they have lost (14-7). However, they have captured just one victory in five true road games this season.
Minnesota appeared to be one of the nation's elite teams early in the campaign, as it got off to a scorching 15-1 start, but its success came to a screeching halt following a four-game losing streak in January, which caused it to plummet from No. 8 all the way to No. 23 in the AP poll. The Gophers snapped out of their funk last Tuesday with an 84-65 home win over Nebraska to move to 11-1 at Williams Arena.
Iowa hasn't played any opponent more than it's played Minnesota, and after 190 meetings, the Gophers hold a 100-90 advantage. The Hawkeyes swept the season series in 2011-12 after Minnesota had won the previous six tilts.
The Hawkeyes found themselves down by seven points to Penn State early in the first half, but they went on a 14-0 run and never trailed after that. The difference was made at the free-throw line, where Iowa outscored the Nittany Lions by a commanding 31-14 margin. Aaron White was especially hot from the stripe, draining 10-of-11 attempts to go along with an 8-of-15 night from the field as he tallied a career-high 27 points. Melsahn Basabe was also solid with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Iowa has played very well at both ends of the floor, outshooting its opponents by four percentage points (.430 to .390) en route to a +9.1 scoring margin. Roy Devyn Marble (14.1 ppg) and White (14.0 ppg) typically share duties as the team's go-to scorer, with both ranking in the top-10 in the conference. White is the more efficient of the two, shooting greater than 53 percent from the field, and he also grabs a team-high 6.0 rpg. Mike Gesell adds 8.8 ppg to the mix, and leads the team in both assists (2.9 apg) and steals (26).
Minnesota put an end to its season-long losing streak with a statement win over Nebraska by shooting 54.2 percent from the floor, dominating the rebounding battle (36-19), and committing just six turnovers in the 19-point win. Rodney Williams was fantastic, shooting 8-of-13 from the floor and hitting all six of his free-throw attempts for 23 points. Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, while combining for eight assists and four steals. The offensive outburst was a return to normalcy for the Gophers, who rank third in the league in scoring (73.7 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.463), and they are equally strong in the paint as they are out on the perimeter. Andre (14.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.3 spg) and Austin Hollins (10.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.0 spg) are equally crafty up top, and both have the ability to drain a long-range bucket as well, combining to make 77 3- pointers at a 40 percent clip. Williams (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg) and Trevor Mbakwe (9.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg) bring a physical presence to the team, while Joe Coleman rounds out a balanced starting five with 9.9 ppg.