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8 P.M. AT ILLINOIS • ASSEMBLY HALL • BTN, 1500-AM

Gophers-Illinois game preview

  • January 8, 2013 - 8:25 PM

Gophers at a glance: Minnesota is aiming for its first 3-0 start in the Big Ten since the 1974-75 season (not counting the vacated 1996-97 season) after the taking its second consecutive home victory Sunday against Northwestern. But the toughest stretch of the season looms, starting with the No. 12 Illini. Against Northwestern, the Gophers had their most sluggish half offensively when the Wildcats forced a snail's pace in the first 20 minutes. But defense kept Minnesota in the game until the Gophers effectively turned the tables on Northwestern in the second with their up-tempo style. Austin Hollins hit five consecutive three-pointers in a 31/2-minute span, leading the team with 19 points.

Illinois at a glance: The Illini started conference play with a disheartening 68-61 loss to Purdue, but they bounced back resoundingly with a 74-55 victory at home against Ohio State. Illinois can be dangerous when shooting well. In signature wins against Butler in Hawaii and at Gonzaga, the Illini hit at least 10 three-pointers, made more than 40 percent of their long attempts and had a different player lead them from behind the arc. Averaging 9.4 made threes per game, Illinois has four players capable of shooting from distance, with DJ Richardson heading the pack. Brandon Paul leads the team with 18.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

AMELIA RAYNO

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