Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gopher Basketball Wins Final Tune-up

The Gopher basketball team closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule Wednesday night with a 92-62 victory over South Dakota State at Williams Arena. Minnesota overcame a sluggish start to pummel the Jackrabbits, using a 17-2 run to close out the first half.

Blake Hoffarber led the team with 16 points, the fifth-consecutive time the junior sharpshooter has been the Gophers' top scorer. He was 4-7 from three-point range and 6-9 overall. Eleven Gophers played in the game, each for at least 10 minutes, and all but freshman Justin Cobbs reached the scorebook. Six Minnesota players reached double figures, including Lawrence Westbrook (12 points), Devoe Joseph (11), Al Nolen (10 points, 6 assists), Damian Johnson (10), and Paul Carter (10).

The Gophers shot a blistering 63% in the first half, but struggled somewhat in the second stanza while shooting 46% for an overall mark of 54%. They won't lose many games when they are around 55%. The tight defense held the Jackrabbits to just 32% shooting and forced 20 turnovers.

Minnesota reached 90 points for the fourth time in the team's five-game winning streak, and scored 89 points in the only game they missed.

Minnesota is 9-3 heading into Big Ten play and will face Penn State at the Barn next Tuesday night. PSU is 8-4 this season but it is a game the Gophers should definitely win. A trip to Iowa City follows for the Gophers on January 2 to play a terrible Hawkeyes' team, followed by a big test against Purdue in West Lafayette on January 5.

One has to wonder what the Gophers' season would look like heading into Big Ten play if they had beaten either Portland, Texas A&M, or Miami? Either way, the team seems to have righted the ship and is playing good basketball heading into league play, dude!

Happy Holidays, Gopher Fans, and we'll be back after Christmas.

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