Gameday preview: Illinois at Gophers basketball

  • Updated: February 18, 2014 - 9:29 PM

gophers gameday

8 P.M. VS. Illinois • Williams • BTN, 1500-AM

Gophers at a glance: Minnesota is coming off a much-needed victory over Northwestern — only its second road win of the conference slate after going 1-5 before that — but the Gophers still are trying to put a streak behind them that has featured four losses in six games. Against the Wildcats, the Gophers had an ugly 17 turnovers and shot just 10-for-18 from the free-throw line, but were able to cling to the 54-48 victory on the strength of their defense, which held leading scorer Drew Crawford to just 1-for-15 shooting. Minnesota ranks third in the Big Ten in steal percentage, according to kenpom.com, and fourth in two-point defense. Mo Walker had a career-high three blocks on Sunday night. The Gophers have lost their past two matchups against Illinois — at home last February after besting the Illini in Champaign and in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.

Illinois at a glance: In a year when everyone in the Big Ten seems to be getting big upsets, the Illini are the exception. In John Groce’s second year as coach, the Illinois (3-10) are in the Big Ten basement after losing 10 of its past 11. The Illini’s most recent loss came at home against Ohio State when they shot 28.3 percent from the field. According to kenpom.com, the Illini rank 318th in the nation in field-goal percentage. Defensively, the Illini have been much better, holding teams to just .965 points per possession, but it hasn’t translated into wins. Rayvonte Rice leads Illinois in scoring with 16.6 points per game, but he has been inconsistent, putting up 24, 9, 23 and 11 points, respectively, the past four games.

Amelia rayno

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