Indiana vs. Minnesota Gameday

No. 9/10 Indiana (14-1/3-0) faces another difficult road test tonight when it travels to Minneapolis to take on Coach Tubby Smith's Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-3/2-1) at 9 p.m. at Williams Arena. Indiana is a perfect 3-0 in road games this season, but has won only once in its last eight trips to Minneapolis…

Game Particulars: Indiana (14-1/3-0) vs. Minnesota (12-3/2-1)
Indiana will see a familiar face Thursday night when it goes up against Tubby Smith, now the head coach of the Golden Gophers. The former Kentucky head coach took over in Minneapolis in the off-season and is off the best start for a first-year Gopher coach since 1949. Now in his 17th season as a head coach, Smith is also looking to join the 400-win club tonight as he enters the match-up with a 399-148 record. Indiana will have its work cut out it as it goes up against a coach in Smith who owns an 8-2 record against the Hoosiers, and they'll be playing at a venue where the Hoosiers have lost seven out of their last eight.

IU is coached by Kelvin Sampson, who is in his second year as Indiana's head coach and owns a 35-12 record in Bloomington and a 490-269 career mark. He was one of 20 active coaches to have at least 400 career wins entering the season, and Minnesota's Smith is looking to join that club tonight. Before arriving at Minnesota, Smith spent the previous 10 seasons at Kentucky, where he compiled a 263-83 mark. He also enjoyed successful stints at Georgia (45-19 in two seasons) and Tulsa (79-43 in four seasons).

The game will be televised by ESPN with Dave O'Brien (play-by-play) and Doris Burke (color commentary) calling the match-up.

Indiana 2007-08 Schedule

Minnesota 2007-08 Schedule

PROBABLE STARTERS
Indiana Hoosiers (14-1/3-0)
PG- Armon Bassett(6-1, 176, So.) – 10.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 50% 3 pt. shooting
SG- Eric Gordon (6-4, 205, Fr.) – 23.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 42.7% 3 pt. shooting
WG – Jamarcus Ellis (6-5, 210, Jr.) 8.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 43.8% FG shooting
F – Mike White (6-6, 232, Sr.) 4.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 40.5% FG shooting
F – D.J. White (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 16.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 63% FG shooting

Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-3/2-1)
PG- Lawrence McKenzie (6-2, 180, Sr.) – 10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 40.8% 3 pt. shooting
SG – Lawrence Westbrook (6-0, 195, So.) – 6.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 34.4% 3 pt. shooting
WG – Jamal Abu-Shamala (6-5, 210, Jr.) – 4.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 32.4% 3 pt. shoting
PF – Dan Coleman (6-8, 225, Sr.) – 14.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.2 bpg, 50.6% FG shooting
C- Spencer Tollackson (6-9, 260, Sr.) 10.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 53.3% FG shooting

Indiana 2007-08 Statistics

Minnesota 2007-08 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Who takes control of the game early?– The Hoosiers are off to a 3-0 start in conference play, but the first halves of games haven't been their specialty as of late. Against a trio of teams that are a combined 3-12 thus far in conference play, Indiana has led at halftime only once – against Michigan. The Hoosiers trailed Illinois by four and were tied with Iowa before coming away with narrow wins. As Indiana prepares for its toughest conference test to date, it would wise to get off to a better start. In an effort to do just that, don't be surprised to see sophomore Armon Bassett back in the starting line-up in place of Jordan Crawford. Williams Arena hasn't been kind to the Hoosiers in the past, and the Gophers are a veteran team that is in search of a signature win to strengthen its postseason resume. After less-than-capacity crowds in the Hoosiers' first two Big Ten road games, "The Barn" figures to be fully stocked tonight. If Minnesota gets off to a quick start, the crowd well get into the game, the Gophers will gain confidence, and Indiana will have a hard time overcoming another second-half deficit.

What sort of efforts will Minnesota make to get D.J. White in foul trouble? - Minnesota knows it really doesn't have an answer for the Hoosiers' leading scorer Eric Gordon, so Tubby Smith figures to rotate three or four different players onto him to keep his defenders fresh. But his solution to D.J. White could be to try to get him into foul trouble. With that in mind, don't be surprised to see Minnesota go to wide body Spencer Tollackson early in the post if White is matched up against him. Tollackson isn't an overly-adept free-throw shooter (52.3 percent), but he has attempted a team-high 65 free throws and can draw fouls when he gets position. If White is matched up with Dan Coleman, meanwhile, Minnesota will likely try to get Coleman to drive on White and pick up fouls that way. White doesn't have many weaknesses, but he does struggle when matched up against more athletic frontcourt players who can face the basket and put it on the floor.

Is Lawrence McKenzie due for a big game against Kelvin Sampson? - The Gophers' fifth-year senior played for Sampson for two years at Oklahoma before deciding to transfer, and he will be going up against his former coach for the second team in a Minnesota uniform. A year ago in Bloomington McKenzie scored 20 points in IU's 72-59 win, including a 3-for-4 effort from behind the 3-point arc, and he figures to be highly-motivated once again for this match-up. McKenzie averaged 14.9 points a year ago, but has seen his number drop off this season due to some added depth in the backcourt. His playing time is down nearly nine minutes/game (from 34.5 to 25.9) and his scoring is down as well (from 14.9 to 10.3). He's also had only one 20-point game this season compared to nine a year ago. But he's capable of scoring points in bunches and it will be important for the Hoosiers to keep him from getting going early.

Can Indiana limit its turnovers to 15 or less? One of the things that jumps out about the Gophers statistically is their ability to force teams into turnovers. Minnesota is forcing a league-high 19.3 turnovers/game, and their +4.67 turnover margin ranks second in the Big Ten to Northwestern. Indiana has plenty of ball handlers who are more than capable of handling any backcourt or ball pressure that the Gophers apply, but Indiana will also need to make good decisions in transition as well as with its halfcourt offense so that they're getting quality shots and not wasting offensive possessions. Indiana is averaging 14.5 turnovers/game, and if they can limit their miscues to that number or fewer, they should be in good shape. But if Indiana's turnover total starts pushing 20, Sampson's squad could be in trouble.

QUOTABLES
"(playing Indiana and Michigan State this week) Those are two of the top teams in the nation. In Tom Izzo and Kelvin Sampson, they always have their teams ready to play. They're always tough defensively. In Eric Gordon, you have one of the best freshmen in the country, if not one of the best players. We want to continue to play well. We know it's a real challenge." – Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith

"Against great teams like Michigan State and Indiana, you have to rebound the ball. That's something we have to get better at. We didn't rebound the ball (in our three losses) and that cost us." – Smith

"I've been really impressed with the job Tubby's done. If you look at the Minnesota team last year, he's done a great job with those seniors. They've embraced him, they play for him, and they play hard." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson

"Coleman is one of the toughest match-ups in the league. Tollackson is really good inside. So they have three really good seniors who've been torugh the league. I like how they play. They play with a lot of confidence, and I'm sure playing at home in front of their crowd coming off a great road win, I'm sure they'll have a lot of momentum Thursday." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson

DID YOU KNOW
Eric Gordon's 23.0 points/game ranks him first in the league and 10th nationally…D.J. White became the first IU player in 36 years to pull down at least 15 rebounds in three straight games when he accomplished the feat in wins over Chicago State, Iowa and Michigan. Steve Downing (1972) was the last IU player to accomplish the feat…Indiana's 27-game homecourt winning streak remains the fourth longest active streak behind Memphis (41), BYU (40) and Notre Dame (30)…Blake Hoffarber is a player for the Hoosiers to be very concerned about off the bench. Hoffarber is shooting a Big Ten-best 49.4 percent on 3-pointers (40-of-81) and is already approaching the school's freshman single season record for 3-pointers…Tubby Smith's teams have won at least 20 games for 14 consecutive seasons, ranking him second to Arizona's Lute Olson on the active list. IU's Kelvin Sampson, meanwhile, has done it 10 straight seasons, which ranks fourth…Minnesota is 8-0 at home this season...the Gophers have shot better than 50 percent from the floor in five of their eight home games.

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