The Gophers welcome back Al Nolen and it could not have come at a better time as the Jackrabbits are lead by a high scoring point guard that will need to be stopped.
Game Time: 7:00
Radio: WCCO and the Gopher Radio Network
|Pos||#16 - Minnesota||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||South Dakota State||Pos|
|PG||Al Nolen||9.2 ||18.9|| Nate Wolters ||PG|
|G||Blake Hoffarber||14.8||9.8|| Griffin Callahan ||G|
|F||Rodney Williams||5.8 ||13.5|| Clint Sargent ||G|
|F||Trevor Mbakwe||13.7 ||6.3|| Dale Moss ||G|
|C||Ralph Sampson III||11.7||7.7|| Jordan Dykstra ||F|
|Bench||Devoe Joseph||11.2||10.4|| Chad White ||Bench|
|Bench||Colton Iverson||6.3||4.7|| Tony Fiegen ||Bench|
|Bench||Austin Hollins||4.2 ||1.7|| Marcus Heemstra ||Bench|
Once again this is an opportunity for the Gophers to pound the ball inside offensively and score at will. But also once again this is going to be an opponent that is more athletic than we are in the frontcourt, which could pose some matchup problems.
The key matchup tonight though will be Al Nolen against Nate Wolters. The SDSU point has been scoring a lot lately averaging 23.6 in his last five games. And earlier in the year Wolters' 25 points led SDSU to a 10-point win at Iowa. Over that same five game stretch Wolters is averaging 6.4 assists and just 1.6 turnovers per game. And did I mention that he's one of us? The St. Cloud native was not recruited by the Gophers out of high school (NDSU didn't offer him a scholarship either and he scored 36 on them). This is a dangerous equation tonight.
With all of that said, I still am not too worried. Al Nolen is back and hopefully his defensive pressure should keep Wolters from carrying his team and if they have to rely on the rest of the roster to come away with a win then I really like our chances. 18 points out of Wolters is manageable, 28 is not as much. This team basically has a six-man rotation and their lack of depth, being on the road and hopefully the return of Nolen should equate to a Gopher win.
|KenPom Efficiency Stats||Minnesota (56)||SDSU (137)|
|Pnt / Poss||1.095||106.3|
|Def Pnt / Poss||0.933||103.4|
|Off Reb %||38.9% (20)||32.4%|
|Def Reb %||68.2%||66.5%|
|TO %||21.1%||15.2% (2)|
The Jackrabbits do not turn the ball over, ranking #2 in the country by committing turnovers on only 15.2% of their possessions is really impressive. The Gophers rank 50th in forcing turnovers and we return Nolen to the lineup who is a steal machine. I don't think the game hinges on turnovers tonight but forcing SDSU to turn the ball over a bit more than usual would go a long way tonight. Overall we shoot better, play better defense and rebound better. I'll concede the turnover battle tonight and take the rest in a win.
What I'm most looking forward to seeing is how Nolen impacts this team on both ends of the floor. I think a win will happen an we can start to get ready for a trip to Madison next week.