1:15 p.m. vs. michigan state • Breslin center • btn, 1500-am
Gophers at a glance: Even if they have displayed weaknesses in the early Big Ten schedule, the Gophers are 2-1, decent positioning as they head into the toughest stretch of the season — starting Saturday with Michigan State and continuing with Ohio State (home), Iowa (away) and Wisconsin (home). In their last time out, after building a double-digit lead early, the Gophers held on for a close victory at Penn State, which is wiinless in the league. Elliott Eliason recorded his fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-11 starting center is averaging 9.6 points and 9.6 rebounds through three Big Ten games. Austin Hollins is still the second-leading scorer after Andre Hollins but has been very inconsistent early. Hollins scored 18 points and added nine rebounds against Purdue but averaged only three points and 3.5 rebounds in the other two. All three of the Gophers’ Big Ten games have been decided by three points.
Michigan State at a glance: The Spartans advanced to 3-0 in the Big Ten after scraping out a victory over Ohio State at home. Michigan State led by as many as 17 points in that one but watched the Buckeyes come back to force overtime. Keith Appling had 20 points, six assists and seven rebounds against the Buckeyes, pushing MSU to the finish by converting a three-pointer and three of four free throws in the final 29 seconds. The Spartans have been extremely productive this season, sitting at No. 5 in the Associated Press rankings despite battling a rash of injuries. Both Adreian Payne (sprained right foot) and Travis Trice (flu) are listed as questionable for Saturday. Michigan State is ranked No. 10 in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, holding opponents to 41.9 percent on two-point attempts, and the 29th-ranked offensive efficiency. Gary Harris leads all players with 17.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game.