FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) -- Iowa City, Iowa.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Minnesota 13-2, Iowa 12-2. Away
Record: Minnesota 3-4, Iowa 2-6. Neutral Record: Minnesota 2-1, Iowa 2-1.
Conference Record: Minnesota 6-6, Iowa 5-7. Series Record: Minnesota leads,
GAME NOTES: The Minnesota Golden Gophers try to fix their recent road woes on
Sunday afternoon when they pay a visit to the Iowa Hawkeyes for a Big Ten
Minnesota began the season as one of the nation's hottest teams, rising all
the way to No. 8 in the AP poll after a 15-1 start, but it has since taken a
tumble in the standings with losses in six of its last nine contests. The
Gophers most recently claimed a quality overtime win over nationally-ranked
Wisconsin at home on Thursday (58-53) to improve to 18-7 (6-6 Big Ten), but
they have lost four in a row away from home.
Much like Minnesota, Iowa saw plenty of success during its non-conference
schedule, which has led to a solid overall record (16-9), but it has had a
difficult time navigating through its conference slate (5-7). The Hawkeyes
have generated some momentum of late however, winning back-to-back games over
Northwestern on Feb. 9 (71-57) and at Penn State this past Thursday (74-72).
Iowa swept Minnesota in the season series during the 2011-12 campaign, but the
Gophers had their revenge on Feb. 3 with a 62-59 win at home. Minnesota holds
a 101-90 advantage over the Hawkeyes all-time.
The Gophers trailed at home to Wisconsin by as many as 10 points, but they
hung tough and eventually forced overtime in the final minute on a pair of Joe
Coleman free throws. They scored the first points in the extra session and
never surrendered that advantage as they held on for the hard-fought win.
Minnesota shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the defensive struggle, but
it held Wisconsin to an even worse 30.5 percent. Andre Hollins was off the
mark from the field (5-of-16), but he made 8-of-10 from the foul line en route
to 21 points, while Austin Hollins (11 points) and Rodney Williams (10 points)
were also effective. Minnesota's offensive attack has been stifled of late, as
it has scored 62 points or less in six of its last seven games, but it still
nets a stellar 70.8 ppg on 45.3 percent field goal efficiency this season.
Andre (14.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Austin Hollins (11.2 ppg, 2.0 spg) are sound
performers out on the perimeter, while Williams (11.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
and Trevor Mbakwe (9.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg) do the dirty work on the inside.
Rounding out the impressive starting five is Joe Coleman, who nets 9.5 ppg on
nearly 48 percent shooting from the floor.
Iowa held a seemingly comfortable 12-point lead over Penn State midway through
the second half on Thursday, and even though a 15-4 run by the Nittany Lions
cut their deficit to just two with under five minutes to play, the Hawkeyes
held without ever giving up the advantage. Iowa shot 44.4 percent from the
field on the night, and was aided late by a solid effort at the foul line (20-
of-26). Roy Devyn Marble finished with 22 points for his second straight 20-
plus point performance, while Mike Gesell and Melsahn Basabe added 13 and 11
points, respectively. Despite ranking in the bottom-half of the league in
field goal percentage (.425), the Hawkeyes boast the third-best scoring
offense in the league (72.2 ppg) thanks in large part to their .714 free-throw
percentage on nearly 25 attempts per game. Marble leads the way with 13.6 ppg,
while Aaron White is hot on his heels with 13.4 ppg while adding a team-high
5.9 rpg. No one else averages in double figures, but seven others tally
between 4.5 and 9.0 ppg.
Once one of the nation's elite, Minnesota now needs to make sure it finishes
strong to ensure an NCAA Tournament bid. The Gophers' road record in recent
weeks is worrisome, but they'll carry the momentum from their victory over
Wisconsin into this matchup and take care of the Hawkeyes.