Iowa City, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - A marquee Big Ten Conference matchup is on tap for Sunday afternoon, as the 14th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
After suffering a tough overtime loss at Michigan State on Jan. 11 (68-65), Minnesota bounced back in its return home on Thursday night with an outstanding 63-53 victory over nationally-ranked Ohio State to improve to 3-2 in conference play. The Gophers are now 14-4 overall, which includes a solid 2-1 mark on the road.
Iowa also faced Ohio State in its most recent contest, as it went on the road to down the Buckeyes last Sunday, 84-74, for its third win in four tries in Big Ten action. The Hawkeyes have been especially potent at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season, winning all 10 of their contests in Iowa City to extend their home winning streak to 20 dating back to last season.
After 180 all-time meetings, Minnesota holds a 96-84 advantage over Iowa. The squads split the two meetings a season ago, with each side winning on its home floor.
The Gophers went into halftime of their most recent game tied with Ohio State but used a strong second half to take down the 10-point victory. Even though they scored only 63 points, they shot an impressive 51.1 percent from the field and held the Buckeyes to a meager 35.3 percent shooting. DeAndre Mathieu led the way with 13 points while also pitching in five assists and three steals. Elliott Eliason tallied a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Andre Hollins added 10 points.
On the season, Minnesota shoots a modest percentage from the field (.436), but drains 7.7 3-pointers per game and is strong from the free-throw line (.755) on its way to 75.2 ppg. On top of all that it plays strong defensively as well, allowing just 66.3 ppg on 41.2 percent shooting. Andre Hollins is the leading scorer with 15.9 ppg thanks in large part to his accurate and active season at the stripe (88-of-105). Austin Hollins (11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Mathieu (11.5 ppg), Malik Smith (9.9 ppg) and Eliason (6.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 bpg) all help out regularly to a balanced squad.
The Hawkeyes also beat Ohio State by 10 points their last time out, but while Minnesota used a strong defensive effort, Iowa simply shot its way to victory, making 29-of-61 from the field (.475) and 21-of-26 at the free-throw line (.808). They also helped their cause by winning both the rebounding (40-31) and the turnover (17-10) battles. Roy Devyn Marble paced the effort with 22 points, while Aaron White was hot on his heels with 19 points. Melsahn Basabe logged a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Mike Gesell also scored 11 and Jarrod Uthoff came off the bench to net 10.
Iowa has grown accustomed to high-scoring outputs this season, as it shoots 47.5 percent from the field for 86.4 ppg, the latter ranking fifth-best in the nation. Not to be overlooked is its stellar scoring defense (66.2 ppg), which results in the country's third-ranked scoring margin (+20.2). Its rebounds per game (44.8) and rebounding margin (+9.8) also rank among the nation's best. Marble puts up 16.4 ppg and has more than twice as many assists (58) as turnovers (25). White (13.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) shoots a lofty 65.3 percent from the field, Uthoff pours in 10.3 ppg and seven others contribute at least 5.2 ppg.