Minnesota (6-15; 0-9 in the Big Ten) at No. 19 Indiana (17-4; 7-1) at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind.
Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1:15 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
The spread: Minnesota +19
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This week's insider: Terrible seasons not necessarily a harbinger of future doom in Big Ten's recent history. Click.
Three storylines to watch as Minnesota tries to break its 10-game skid:
No Morris. Gophers senior guard Carlos Morris did not make the trip to Bloomington, the team announced today. He's back home in Florida, attending the funeral of a family friend, team spokesman Dan Reisig said. Morris, the team's fourth-leading scorer with 10.4 points and four rebounds a game, is expected to be back for Thursday's game at Northwestern. His absence against Indiana, though, will put extra pressure on both senior Joey King and freshman Jordan Murphy to provide some scoring help for Nate Mason, who has put up 59 points in the last three games. The Gophers rotation also shrinks to eight scholarshipped players, so staying out of foul trouble will be critical.
Yogi domination. When it became clear that James Blackmon, Jr. (knee) would have to sit out for the rest of the season in late December, the expectation was that senior Yogi Ferrell would have to take an even bigger role. The 6-foot guard has done that, executing at an extremely high level while making his teammates look better as well. Ferrell is coming off a 30-point performance in a loss at Wisconsin (although he had just one assist in that contest) and is shooting as well as he has in his career. Ferrell is making 47 percent of his shots from beyond the arc on the season, and he’s laser focused that production in the last three games, hitting 13 of 18 attempts, good for an eye-popping 68.4 percent. Last time out, when Indiana escaped with a 70-63 win in Minneapolis, Ferrell dumped 20 points on the on the perimeter and allow open shots in the zone, but Ferrell is one they’ll have to keep somewhat contained if they want to keep things close again.
Free throws. There were plenty of things that didn’t go Minnesota’s way on Saturday, but as the second half pulled to a close, the Gophers were still in contention for their first Big Ten win of the season, over Purdue. This had as much to do with the Boilermakers’ poor play as anything, but the opening to beat a ranked team perhaps make it all the more of a gut-punch that the Gophers simply couldn’t make their free throws in crunch time. Minnesota missed four of its last six in the final seven minutes of the game, the overall margin of loss. It’s been a problem all year, and doesn’t seem to be improving despite the players’ ritual of shooting free throws before and after practice. Indiana has sent three of its last four opponents (Minnesota included) to the line 25 or more times , and allowed Wisconsin 37 shots from the stripe, a major factor in the win. Given the mismatches just about everywhere else on the court, if Minnesota gets whistles, it will need to make the best of them.
THE NUMBER: 3 – consecutive home games in which Indiana has won by 25 or more.
MY PREDICTION: Joey King bounces back and hits some threes, but not well enough to stop Indiana’s roll.
Indiana 82, Minnesota 60