Opponent Preview: Cornell

The Gophers will look to get back in the win column against the Cornell Big Red on Saturday night. Minnesota is coming off their first loss of the season to Virginia and will need to play better tonight to knock off Cornell.

Game Outlook: The Gophers are coming off their first loss of the season to Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. In the game, the Gophers' defense struggled, giving up 87 points to the visiting Cavaliers. The absence of point guard Al Nolen was most noticeable on the defensive end. After an extended period of preparation, look for Minnesota to have a much more improved and energetic defense against the Big Red.

One of the keys to tonight's game will be the play of the Gopher's big men. Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson struggled last game to get anything going. Iverson and Sampson, as well as Trevor Mbakwe, will need to show their dominance against a smaller Cornell team. The Big Red are not a very good team on the boards averaging 31.1 rebounds per game while giving up 41.1. The Gophers' bigs should be able to crash the glass, get rebounds and score easy second chance points in the paint.

The key to the game for Cornell will be their three-point shooting. As a team, the Big Red are shooting over 34% from deep. Snipers like Chris Wroblewski (13.8 ppg) and Drew Ferry (10.0 ppg) will look to get hot from behind the line to sink the Gophers with three-point shooting. Minnesota will need to improve their perimeter defense if they want to stop the Big Red attack.

Season to Date: Cornell has had struggles early this year, standing with a current record of 2-5. The Big Red beat the University of Albany in their home opener and dominated the University of Delaware by a score of 75-61. The team has had to play some tough team in their non-conference schedule, including Boston University, Lehigh and Syracuse. The Big Red are not the same team they were last year in the NCAA Tournament but are still a solid squad who will be looking for a big upset tonight.

Coaching Preview: Bill Courtney is in his first season as head coach for the Big Red. Courtney has a lengthy resume with 15 years of assistant coach experience with Virginia, Virginia Tech and George Mason. Only 39 years old, Courtney will be looking for his first win against a ranked team as a head coach.

Quote to Note:Tubby Smith on the team's recent lack of defense, "We need more defensive intensity and more defensive pressure at the point of attack."

Random Fact: Cornell beat Temple and Wisconsin on their way to a Sweet 16 berth last season. The 12th seeded Big Red eventually lost to Kentucky by a score of 62-45.

Series History: The Gophers and Big Red have met a total of five times. The last time the teams met was during the 2008-2009 season with the Gophers winning by a score of 71-54, coming back from 12 points behind. The series started back in 1903-1904 with a Gopher victory, 46-18.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories