Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hoffarber Continues Red-Hot Play As Gophers Roll

Coach Tubby Smith's decision to put junior sharpshooter Blake Hoffarber into the starting lineup continues to pay dividends for the Gopher basketball team. Hoffarber scored a career-high 26 points, thanks to 8-10 three-point shooting, to help the Gophers to an 89-48 win over Northern Illinois Tuesday night at Williams Arena. 

Hoffarber set a school record with eight three-pointers in the game and was clearly in a zone. Since being put into the starting five four games ago, Hoffarber has reached double-digits in scoring each game and has also managed consecutive 20-point games. More importantly, the Gophers have won all four games.

Lawrence Westbrook (15 points) and Ralph Sampson III (14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks) also notched double-figures for the Gophers. All ten Gophers who played scored.

The mismatch with Northern Illinois was stark on Tuesday night. The Gophers shot 56% from the floor for the game while holding the Huskies to just 32%. Minnesota was 11-20 from three-point range, while NIU was 2-20. Rebounds were tied at 36 for the game, but Minnesota won the turnover battle 21-14. One thing coach Smith will not be happy about is the Gophers' allowing 12 steals.

Minnesota takes the rest of the week off before facing South Dakota State next Wednesday to conclude non-conference play. The Gophers' RPI isn't improving because of these victories over inferior competition but these are games the team needs to win and they are doing so.

  • Freshman Rodney Williams was held out of Tuesday's game with a sore foot. He had an MRI Tuesday which came up negative, but did not play as a precaution.
  • Hoffarber tweaked an ankle tripping over Sampson's foot during the game. He was treated in the locker room and returned to action.
  • The on-campus investigation surrounding a theft of a laptop is expected to continue for at least another month. Freshman Royce White is a potential suspect in the November theft and has been suspended indefinitely from the team. He pleaded guilty last week to disorderly conduct in an altercation at the Mall of America. 

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