Gophers Eying Upset
Gabe Olaseni
HI.com Publisher
Posted Feb 24, 2014


Two teams in need of a victory face off Tuesday night in Minneapolis. Minnesota plays host to border rival Iowa in a key Big Ten contest for both schools.

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Box Score from 1st Meeting

Minnesota raced to a 10-point lead Saturday at then-No. 24 Ohio State. The good news ended there.

The Buckeyes overwhelmed the visitors after the intermission and came away with a 64-46 win. The Golden Gophers were outscored 46-18 in the second half.

It was the type of game that could demoralize a team and send it into a tailspin. Minnesota (17-11 overall, 6-9 Big Ten) returned to work out Sunday determined to change its fortune.

Coach Richard Pitino Tweeted:

Tuesday, the Gophers welcome rival Iowa (19-7, 8-5) to Williams Arena (6 p.m. CT, BTN). The No. 20 Hawkeyes own a 94-73 victory against Minnesota from Jan. 19 in Iowa City.

"The best part about (Sunday's practice) was their attitude was great," Pitino said. "You could tell that they were really, really eager to work. Deandre Mathieu had cramps and he was fighting his way to get back into practice. Elliott Eliason had a bloody nose and was trying to get it patched up as quickly as possible so he could get back into practice.

"I was really excited about it. You could tell that all of the guys were really, really excited about the opportunity to play a Top 20 team in our building (Tuesday)."

Minnesota began the season at 3-2, which included a win against Ohio State. It then got blown out by the Hawkeyes, beginning a stretch where it's dropped seven of its last 10 games.

The Golden Gophers sit squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble with three regular-season conference contests to play. They travel to Big Ten leading Michigan on Saturday before playing host to Penn State a week later.

"We don't look at desperation at all," Pitino said. "We're very, very positive with a lot of things we've done. We've got to correct a lot of mistakes but more than anything, the past is irrelevant, the future is irrelevant; we put ourselves in a good position right now with three games left. We can choose to look at it one way or we can choose to look at it another way. We're choosing the positive here. We're excited about the opportunities and we're going to make the best of them."

Iowa is coming off a disappointing, 79-75 home loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. After the Minnesota game, the Hawkeyes fly directly to Bloomington for Thursday's make-up with Indiana. They're back in Iowa City Sunday to play Purdue.

"Yeah, it's a busy week but I'm not so sure that at this time of year the players wouldn't rather play games anyway," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "They're tired of practicing by the time you get to the end of February. I think they welcome the opportunity to prepare for a game and go play a game."

Iowa has yet to lose to a team outside of the Top 25 and has avoided dropping back-to-back games this season.

"It's the experience of this team," junior Gabe Olaseni said. "We understand that every game is its own individual battle. Minnesota is a tough challenge, especially in their building, so we have to focus."


Related Stories
McCaffery Bans Twitter
 -by HawkeyeInsider.com  Feb 24, 2014
Game Thread: Iowa vs. Minnesota
 -by GopherDigest.com  Feb 25, 2014
Minnesota Stumbles To Ohio State 64-46
 -by GopherDigest.com  Feb 22, 2014

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