Gophers Basketball Report

The Gophers have been one of the better stories in the downtrodden Big Ten this season. <br><br>However, they are coming off a miserable week in which they lost to Northwestern and Indiana and had more turnovers (38) than field goals.

Minnesota is still over .500 in the conference (6-5 prior to their Feb. 16 trip to Michigan State), but head coach Dan Monson has to get the team back on track if it is going to finish with a winning Big Ten record and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

After the 71-56 loss at Indiana Feb. 12, Monson said he didn't think any of the eight players who stepped on the court in Bloomington had a good game.

"Athletics is so funny because a week ago we were riding high after the Wisconsin game and we get a little frustrated against Northwestern (Feb. 9) and it's been very contagious," Monson said. "Offensively we've been very frustrated."

Monson has to figure out a way to get some consistent scoring outside of guard Vincent Grier, who scored 21 points against the Hoosiers. In the losses to Northwestern and Indiana, Grier's teammates made just 15-of-56 shots from the field.

Monson believes his team is pressing and has to get back to playing the way it did earlier -- when the passes were crisper and appeared to be smiling more. "We've got to get it back and get back to having fun," Monson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We've worked too hard to get to this position, and we've got so much more to play for."

While the Gophers are going through some difficulty now, they close the Big Ten season with winnable games against Iowa, Purdue and Penn State. If they don't pull a significant fade, a return to the NCAA tournament seems likely.

Minnesota has gone down to defeat in five of its last six trips to Indiana.

Minnesota regularly plays very tough perimeter defense. Opponents are shooting just 31.9 percent from beyond the arc -- second in the conference behind Wisconsin. However, Indiana made 8-of-13 shots from beyond the arc in their 71-56 win over the Gophers Feb. 12.

The Gophers are the most aggressive defensive team in the Big Ten when it comes to steals. They are recording 9.61 takeaways per game.

Notes:  The Gophers have had a tremendous season so far, but pressure is starting to mount after back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Indiana. While winning at Michigan State seems to be a bit too much to ask, beating Ohio State at home is possible with a solid all-around game. The Gophers need to find their shooting again if they are going to play well down the stretch.

Roster Report: Guard-forward Vincent Grier scored 21 points in the Feb. 12 loss to Indiana and he is averaging a team-high 17.7 ppg this season.

Guard Aaron Robinson is doing a nice job of seeing the floor and distributing the ball. He is averaging a team-high 2.8 assists per game.

Center Jeff Hagen is averaging 11.8 ppg and shooting a team-high 57.4 percent from the field.

Lineup: Point guard Brent Lawson, shooting guard Aaron Robinson, center Jeff Hagen, power forward Dan Coleman, guard-forward Vincent Grier.

Upcoming Games: at Michigan State, Feb. 16; vs. Ohio State, Feb. 19

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