FORT WAYNE – Indiana coach Tom Crean will not look at the recent struggles Minnesota has had before the No. 1 Hoosiers (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) travel to play the Gophers (18-9, 6-8) tonight.
Minnesota has lost four of its last five games, and the Gophers didn’t crack 60 points in any of those games.
We’re real focused on the games they’ve played the best in, and we’re focused on how they’ve played against us, and the pressure that they brought against us and the movement that they have because that’s what we feel like we’re going to see, Crean said during Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference.
Indiana, which received 64 of 65 first-place votes to hold onto the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 for a fourth straight week, defeated then-No. 8 Minnesota 88-81 on Jan. 12.
The Hoosiers had 15 turnovers against the Gophers, who are tied for first in the Big Ten in steals with 8.3 per game and cause 13.5 turnovers per game.
They really get after you when they get into that press, when they’re trying to turn you over, and that’s what you expect to see from them, Crean said.
Crean also expects Indiana guard Victor Oladipo to be healthier tonight. The 6-foot-5 junior suffered a sprained left ankle in the Hoosiers’ 83-55 win over Purdue on Feb. 16.
Oladipo said his ankle did bother him in Indiana’s 72-68 win at No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 19, but that was hard to tell after his 19-point, nine-rebound, five-steal effort against the Spartans. The Hoosiers haven’t played since defeating Michigan State.
I think he will be fine, Crean said. What level he is at, we will just have to wait and see (tonight). I know it’s a lot better than what it was.
Minnesota forward Rodney Williams Jr., who averages 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, is also recovering from an injury. The 6-7 senior was limited to eight minutes in the Gophers’ 71-45 loss to No. 16 Ohio State.
I think he is doing a lot better, Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. He’s using that arm. He really wasn’t using his left arm at all. I’m happy that he’s better and healthier.
Smith will want his team at full strength as it takes a second shot at defeating Indiana. The Hoosiers enter tonight’s game in first place in the Big Ten, and they lead the conference in scoring with 82.5 points per game and give up only 61.3 points.
They just have a lot of different weapons, Smith said. Everybody knows that Cody (Zeller) and Victor are outstanding players, but when you have guy like (Kevin) Yogi’ Ferrell can really break you down off penetration and you have a guy like Will Sheehey who can shoot and has had an outstanding season. They have a lot of weapons and a lot of different ways they can play that can really hurt you. When you scout and prepare for Indiana, you got to focus on Cody Zeller and Victor.