A couple of injury notes:
- Elliott Elison has a turned ankle, coach Tubby Smith said. The Gophers held him out of practice on Monday. A team source said he will be available tonight, but somewhat limited.
- Andre Ingram’s hip has been bothering him some. His game status is unknown.
- Julian Welch was feeling under the weather over the weekend, but he is expected to play.
If the Gophers are in the process of righting early wrongs, tonight is another big night for them. Just less than a month ago, the Gophers dropped an ugly game to Iowa at Williams Arena for their third straight loss.
After Iowa went into the zone late in the first, Minnesota looked helpless to hang on to an early double-digit lead, and after losing the momentum, eventually fell 64-62.
“I think we owe these guys (Iowa),” Rodney Williams said. “We let one slip away against them.
“After that game, the next couple teams we played against, they went zone on us and we did a pretty good job of breaking the zone. That’s what we practiced a lot (this week). We’ll be ready for it.”
Four things the Gophers need to do tonight:
1. Control the game early: Iowa’s defense has been suspect lately. The Gophers need to take advantage of the trend and hop on the Hawkeyes early and put the pressure on them.
2. Penetrate the zone: While the Gophers have still struggled some against zones they’ve seen since that Iowa game, they don’t look completely dead. They say they’ve been practicing against it. Now let’s see it.
3. Get back to the basics. The Gophers got a little sloppy with free throws and turnovers in the last game – a win over Illinois. They prevailed, but it wasn’t exactly a comfortable win. If they can do the little things tonight, the Gophers will do themselves a big favor.
4. Get some leadership. It was nice for the Gophers to have a strong bench to rely on over the weekend, but that’s not sustainable. Rodney Williams, Ralph Sampson III and Julian Welch (if healthy) need to re-claim their roles tonight.