Minnesota will target its fourth win in a row when it travels to Iowa for a Big Ten showdown on Sunday afternoon in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Golden Gophers (15-7, 6-5 Big Ten) are coming off an emotional 59-56 win on their home court against Michigan State on Tuesday night. That followed an overtime win against Northwestern at home and a comeback win on the road against Penn State.
One year after going 9-22 and finishing at the bottom of the Big Ten, Minnesota is surging.
“Don’t kid yourself,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “That’s a good basketball team.”
Minnesota will try to avoid a letdown at Iowa (13-10, 5-7), which is looking to bounce back from an 89-79 loss at Penn State on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes have lost two of their last three and four of their last six, but there is time to turn around their fortunes with eight conference games to go.
Tony Perkins leads Iowa with 15.5 points per game on 47.5-percent shooting. Ben Krikke also has been a reliable scorer, averaging 15.0 points on 53.9-percent shooting.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery also noted the progress of role players such as Pryce Sandfort, who scored five points in eight minutes in his last game and provided pesky defense.
“He’s been practicing really well,” McCaffery said. “He’s been way more aggressive. That’s why I went to him. He was really special last night on both ends of the floor.”
The Golden Gophers are led by Dawson Garcia, who is averaging 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Cam Christie (11.1 points) and Mike Mitchell Jr. (10.0) also are scoring in double digits.
Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said hard-nosed defense also has been a key to the team’s success.
“I thought our defensive effort was phenomenal,” Johnson said after the win over Michigan State. “To win a toughness game, to win ugly and to win with our defense, that was phenomenal.”
This is the second and final game between Iowa and Minnesota during the regular season. The Hawkeyes won the first matchup 86-77 on Jan. 15 in Minneapolis.
–Field Level Media
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