Scouting Report: Minnesota

Minnesota finally has Andre Hollins back after an ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against Wisconsin. Both Minnesota and the Hoosiers could desperately use a win as they vie to stay in the middle of the Big Ten standings.

Here's a look at Saturday's Indiana opponent:

Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-8, 4-6)

Last time out: L, 77-74 at Purdue Wednesday

The Golden Gophers lost a triple-overtime thriller earlier this week 77-74 at conference foe Purdue, the third loss in a row for Minnesota. Junior forward Maurice Walker led the team off the bench with 17 points, but his contributions and three other players with at least 14 points just wasn't enough.

At halftime, Minnesota trailed by just a point, and as the second half wound down, neither team could grab a convincing lead. Purdue's A.J. Hammons hit two free throws with 31 seconds left in regulation to put the Boilermakers ahead, but Austin Hollins hit a shot at the buzzer to give Minnesota another chance. In the first overtime, Purdue scored all four of its points quickly while holding Minnesota scoreless for the first four minutes before Deandre Mathieu hit four free throws to knot it once again.

During the next five minutes of extra time, both teams failed to score a point in the final 2:38, staying tied at 68-all to take the game into its third extra period. Mathieu put the Golden Gophers ahead by a point with a layup with 2:17 left, but a bucket by Hammons with 1:01 put Purdue back ahead for good. After shooting 54.5 percent in the first half, Minnesota finished the final 35 minutes making just 17-of-47 shots from the field.

2012-13 season

Record: 21-13 (8-10 in the Big Ten Conference)

Minnesota began the 2012-13 season in ease, taking down the team's first four opponents by at least 15 points. The Golden Gophers hit a brief roadblock against Duke in their first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, falling 89-71, but from there, they ran off with eight-straight wins to finish off conference play 12-1.

The Golden Gophers' hot streak continued, briefly, into conference play with wins against Michigan State, Northwestern and Illinois to climb to No. 8 in the country. Then, they traveled to Bloomington Jan. 12 to take on the Hoosiers and fell 88-81 to begin a four-game losing streak that would start to ruin their once impressive season.

The team recovered after losses to IU, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin with home wins against Nebraska and Iowa but finished Big Ten play on a 3-6 skid. An 8-10 conference record after starting 3-0 earned Minnesota the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. There, they met Illinois and fell on a last-second shot from the Fighting Illini's Brandon Paul. Still, the Golden Gophers earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

In the first round, Tubby Smith won his first Tournament game as the Minnesota head coach by upsetting UCLA 83-63, but the Golden Gophers ran into No. 3-seeded Florida just two days later. Despite coming within seven points after falling behind 21 at halftime, Smith couldn't pull his team back, and they fell 78-64. The next day, Smith was let go as head coach, and Minnesota brought in Richard Pitino to fill the spot.

What they do well:

The Golden Gophers boast some of the best guard play in the country with Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu leading the team's nontraditional three-guard set. The trio are the team's top three scorers with 15.1, 11.8 and 11.7 points per game, respectively. With 108 steals between them, Minnesota has at least 13 more than any team in the conference to lead the Big Ten with 8.3 per game.

Minnesota's guards also excel distributing the ball, particularly Mathieu, who ranks fourth in the conference in assists per game with 4.3. As a team, the Golden Gophers sit fourth in the conference also with 14.4 assists per game.

Star players:

Andre Hollins

Hollins missed essentially three games with a high ankle sprain after suffering the injury in the opening seconds against Wisconsin more than two weeks ago. He came back Wednesday against Purdue and scored just eight points and couldn't bring his team to victory, but earlier in the season, Hollins has been a major leader in keeping the Minnesota boat afloat.

Leading the team averaging 15.1 points per game, the junior guard from Memphis, Tenn. has scored at least 20 points five times. Before his injury, Hollins was averaging 16.2 points during Big Ten play. He's not the sharpest shooter in the country, making just 40.1 percent of his attempts from the field this season, but he's a 35.1 percent 3-point shooter as well as one of the best free throw shooters in the conference. Recent losses to Nebraska and Northwestern with Hollins missing seem to show that he's a nearly vital key to the Golden Gophers' success this season.

DeAndre Mathieu

Of Minnesota's three main guards, Mathieu is best shooter of the trio, shooting over 50 percent. Most of his shots have come closer to the basket, but the few times he's put up 3-pointers this season, he's done well, making nearly half of his 25 attempts.

After playing his freshman season at Morehead State and averaging just 2.9 points per game, Mathieu has made a giant step in leadership this season starting all 23 games and averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. He leads the team in assists with 99 this season and has also proven himself on defense with 39 steals so far this season.


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