Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The 14th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers go
in search of their sixth straight win and 10th of the season, as they pull
into the City of Angels for a non-conference clash with the USC Trojans.
Tubby Smith, who needs just one more victory to become the 19th active head
coach to record 500 career wins, has led his Gophers to nine victories in
their first 10 games, the lone setback coming against Duke during the Battle 4
Atlantis in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving day. Minnesota responded by knocking
off three consecutive quality opponents in Memphis, Stanford and Florida
State, and the team's last two victims have been North Florida and South
Dakota State. UM will open Big Ten Conference play at home against Michigan
State on New Year's Eve.
At the other end of the success spectrum lies a USC team that is hoping to put
the brakes on a four-game slide, the team sporting a 3-5 record overall coming
into this contest. The Trojans haven't won a home game since opening the
season with a pair of victories over Coppin State and Long Beach State, and
this bout marks the first of three straight the team will play at the Galen
Center. In fact, USC will play six of its next seven at home, the final two
being Pac-12 Conference tilts against Stanford and California. The Trojans'
most recent outing resulted in a 75-67 setback at New Mexico on Wednesday.
The all-time series between these two teams favors Minnesota, 3-2, with the
Gophers winning last year's encounter, 55-40.
Minnesota has been getting it done at both ends of the court this season,
averaging 77.1 ppg in hitting 47.9 percent of its total shots while yielding
just 61.0 ppg on 36.1 percent field goal efficiency. The Gophers boast four
double-digit scorers, with Andre Hollins and his 13.7 ppg leading the way. Not
content to simply score, Hollins is dishing out 3.6 apg as well, helping guys
like Rodney Williams (12.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Austin Hollins (12.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
and Joe Coleman (10.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) make solid contributions as well. Andre
Hollins nailed six 3-pointers en route to 22 points, as he led Minnesota to
its 24-point rout of visiting South Dakota State earlier in the week. Austin
Hollins hit three treys in tallying 17 points and Coleman tacked on 15 for the
Gophers, who shot a sizzling 64.3 percent from the field in the first half,
56.9 percent for the game, while holding their overmatched opponent to just
38.6 percent. Sizable advantages in rebounding (38-26) and points in the paint
(38-18) played a significant role in the outcome as well.
The offensively-challenged Trojans are averaging just 64.2 ppg behind typical
shooting outputs of .415 overall and .336 from beyond the arc. The team has
just two players currently netting double figures on a consistent basis, but
J.T. Terrell and Eric Wise combine for only 23.4 ppg so opponents rarely have
to worry about the fireworks any one player or combination of players for that
matter is about to unleash on them. Defensively, USC allows 67.5 ppg, with
foes hitting 42.1 percent of their 3-point tries. The Trojans do a decent job
in forcing an average of 15 turnovers per contest. Despite shooting a healthy
52.9 percent from the field and putting all five starters in double figures,
USC still managed to come out on the short end of its recent visit to New
Mexico. That's because the Lobos drained 11 3-pointers, and shot 52 percent
from the floor themselves. Wise was high man for the Trojans with 14 points.
The Sports Network