Game Preview: NDSU at Minnesota

The Golden Gophers are looking for their 12th win of the season when they host North Dakota State on Thursday night. Tip-off at Williams Arena is scheduled 7:00 p.m. The game can be viewed at BTN.com or listened to on ESPN 1500 Twin Cities.

Minnesota (11-1) vs. North Dakota State (8-2)
Minneapolis, Minn. -- Williams Arena
7:00 p.m. – BTN.com (Matt  Nelson, Quincy Lewis)

PREVIEWING NORTH DAKOTA STATE

Season to Date: North Dakota State enters Thursday's game with a 8-2 record. The Bison are coming off a route over Mayville State, 92-50. NDSU's two losses have been by a combined seven points. Both losses came on the road, losing to Western Illinois (51-55) and Arizona State (57-60).

Returning Scoring: The Bison have four players, who started at least 20 games, back this season. NDSU has three of its top four scorers back including senior forward Eric Carlson (10.1 ppg), sophomore forward Marshall Bjorklund (8.7 ppg) and sophomore guard Taylor Braun (8.2 ppg) and senior guard Drew Lundberg (8.0 ppg).

Inside the Stats: NDSU ranked among the top 50 nationally in eight categories in the NCAA Division I statistics through Sunday, Dec. 18. Individually, Mike Felt was 18th in 3-point percentage (.468) and 29th in 3-pointers per game (2.9), and Lawrence Alexander was 40th in assists per game (5.5).

Coach Preview: Saul Philips is in his fifth season as the head coach at North Dakota State, where he has compiled a 75-55 record. Prior to becoming the head coach at NDSU, Philips spent three years as an assistant at the school. Philips came to North Dakota State from Wisconsin where he was the director of basketball operations for three years under Bo Ryan.

Series History: The two teams meet on Thursday for the 27th time in a series that dates back to 1901 when the Golden Gophers beat the Bison 24-5. Minnesota holds a 25-1 advantage in the series—it's only loss coming back during the 1936-37 season.

Projected Starters:
F 23 Trayvonn Wright (6-7, 180, So.) – 8.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg
F 42 Marshall Bjorklund (6-8, 240, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg
G 21 Dylan Hale (6-1, 175, r-So.) – 6.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G 22 Lawrence Alexander (6-3, 175, Fr.) – 11.3 ppg, 5.3 apg
G 24 Taylor Braun (6-7, 205, So.) – 2.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
G 21 Kelvin Parker (6-1, 185, Fr.) – 3.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F 30 Xavier Owens (6-5, 220, Fr.) – 1.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Background
Location: Fargo, N.D.
Enrollment: 14,399
Conference: The Summit League
Nicknames: Bison
Colors: Yellow & Green
Head Coach: Saul Phillips
Record at NDSU: 75-55
2010-11 Record: 14-15 (8-10)

GOPHERS LINEUP AT A GLANCE:

Projected Starters:
F 33 Rodney Williams (6-7, 205, Jr.) – 9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg
C 50 Ralph Sampson III (6-11, 230, Sr.) – 7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
G 1 Andre Hollins (6-1, 200, Fr.) – 6.6 ppg, 1.6 apg
G 20 Austin Hollins (6-4, 185) – 9.2 ppg, 2.1 apg
G 00 Julian Welch (6-3, 194, Jr.) – 10.3 ppg, 2.6 apg

Key Reserves:
F 10 Oto Ošenieks (6-8, 220, Fr.) – 3.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg
G 23 Chip Armelin (6-3, 198, So.) – 6.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G 13 Maverick Ahanmisi (6-2, 192, So.) – 4.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
C 55 Elliott Eliason (6-11, 260, r-Fr.) – 2.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg


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