Tonight's Gophers opponent, Ohio State ranks seventh in the nation at three-point defense, according to

Forty percent of the Gophers' shots come from beyond the arc.

What gives? Well, not the Gophers' activity from downtown -- at least not purposefully.

"Bombs away," coach Richard Pitino said. "We're going to keep shooting." 

No doubt the Gophers need to play their own game tonight (8 p.m. tip-off; 1500-a.m and ESPN2), and execute  it well -- Minnesota wouldn't fare well trying to do something different.  While succeeding from three-point range should be as challenging as ever with the Buckeyes boasting two of the premiere perimeter defenders in the nation -- in Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott -- Pitino also believes its Minnesota's biggest strength.

"We're always going to shoot threes," Pitino said. "That's kind of what I've kind of grown up around, is shooting the three, I love it. I think that's the way you can go into a Michigan State and upset some teams sometimes and stretch out the defense." 

At the same time, Pitino realizes that the Gophers aren't going to be able to rely on that shot as much as they have in the Big Ten schedule so far. 

"We've got to start going inside," Pitino said. "[We] have to understand, we've got to establish that low-post game first, but if we have an open shot, we're going to take it."

The Buckeyes will be sure to keep the Gophers honest in that regard. If Minnesota can't show that they're capable of pounding the ball inside -- and then doing something with it once they get it there, Ohio State will be able to focus all of its defensive firepower on containing the outside.

The Gophers ran into that problem in its last game, when after making 51.9 percent of their three-pointers in the first, Michigan State adjusted in the second, and Minnesota's offense stalled miserably. The Gophers shot 51.9 percent from the field in the first, 38.1 percent in the second, and 11.1 percent in the third, unable to rebound from their lost weapon.

Elliott Eliason has improved dramatically in the post overall -- with Pitino naming him the team's fourth captain on Wednesday -- but he still struggles to go one-on-one with his man under the hoop and come up with a basket. 

It's an area the Gophers will be tested in tonight, and will probably be critical to their success or their failure. 

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Pitino makes Elliott Eliason the Gophers fourth captain

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