The #12/#14 Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-3, 3-2) travel to Evanston to face the Northwestern Wildcats (11-8, 2-4). Game time is 8pm CT Wednesday and the contest will be carried live on the Big Ten Network. (Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
Northwestern senior guard Reggie Hearn (#11) averaged 21 points per game last week. (Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
Game Preview: #12/#14 Minnesota (15-3, 3-2) at Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) 1/23/13
Just over two weeks ago Minnesota beat Northwestern 69-51 at Williams Arena. The Wildcats should have a better chance of pulling off an upset in Evanston, but they have been struggling at home.
Northwestern has won only 2 of their last 9 home games and are 0-3 in home conference games this season. Their last Big Ten home win came against Minnesota on February 18 of last year.
JANUARY 6 GAME RECAP
Northwestern was able to keep things close in the first half with an extremely slow pace (22 possessions). Both teams shot poorly (each shot 36% eFG) and together they combined to turn the ball over on 32% of their possessions.
The Gophers led 17-14 at the end of a frustrating first 20 minutes of play. However, a strong start by Minnesota in the second half set up some great entertainment in the form of a shooting clinic put on by junior wing Austin Hollins.
The Gophers gradually built up a 30-18 lead with 12:59 left and Northwestern effectively abandoned their ultra-deliberate pace that had kept things close earlier in the game.
Austin would take advantage of the ball moving quickly up and down the court by nailing five 3-pointers in the span of just over three minutes. With 8:45 still remaining the Gophers led 45-25 and emptied their bench. It was over.
Despite the slow start, the game’s final statistics didn’t look all that uncommon for Minnesota. Although turnovers were ugly and seen often, the Gophers were able to blow out Northwestern by getting a ton of offensive rebounds and earning trips to the line.
Wednesday’s game should look much the same. The Wildcats will try to dictate a slow pace and hope that they’re shooting well enough to keep it close.
In the first meeting senior guard Reggie Hearn (14.5 ppg) returned to the floor after missing two games with an ankle injury. He didn’t look like himself in the first half and missed his only shot attempt. In the second half, Hearn looked much better and put up 11 points on 4/7 shooting.
In his last two games (at Illinois and vs. Indiana), Hearn played all but one minute and scored 22 and 20 points, respectively. Bill Carmody said Monday that, “he’s pretty much recovered… he might favor it a little bit, his ankle, but he’s playing real well.”
The Gophers are losers of their last two, but falling to Michigan and Indiana shouldn’t cause any degree of panic. However, a loss to the Wildcats would warrant increasing concerns.
Minnesota should have no issues dominating the glass, but Gopher turnovers plus excellent shooting by Northwestern could put the 'Cats in a position to surprise. The Gophers’ turnover rate has been over 21% in each of their Big Ten games this year and they’d love to prove they can be better with the ball.
Senior Reggie Hearn (14.5p, 4.6r, 59.8% eFG, 66.2 FTR). Hearn has reached the 20-point mark on three occasions this season.
Dave Sobolewski (11.3p, 2.2r, 4.4a, 2.3:1 A:TO ratio, 41.6% 3FG). Steady sophomore point guard can pass and shoot.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball