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Minnesota faces two tough road tests with Purdue and No. 19 Ohio State

The Minnesota women’s basketball team won’t have much time to savor its pair of home wins from last weekend.

The Gophers’ schedule only gets tougher as Minnesota (15-6 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) hits the road to face Purdue on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Ohio State on Sunday at 3 p.m.

And after knocking off the Buckeyes at home last Thursday, Ohio State (16-4 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) will not be overlooking the Gophers.

“It’s a little bit of a disadvantage, but it’ll be a disadvantage to both teams,” senior forward Leslie Knight said. “But it’s not like they’ve had too long to prepare so things should equal out.”

Purdue (10-10 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) will be Minnesota’s first challenge, as the Boilermakers are coming off a win over Illinois and lead the overall series against the Gophers 32-16.

But Minnesota topped Purdue earlier in the season with a 70-63 win, much thanks to Knights’ 20 points.

The Boilermakers have yet to win a game in which they were out-rebounded, which could bode well for the Gophers, who have been improving their rebounding since the start of the season.

Minnesota will have to slow down forward Danielle Campbell, who averages 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds a game, and will have to try to limit Purdue’s quick guards from running the floor.

“They’re a run-and-gun team just like us, so we’re going to have to get back in transition,” junior guard Emily Fox said. “We’re going to focus on defense a lot during this game.”

Fox is more than adequate on the defensive end, but it will be her offensive touch, which she rediscovered recently, that should provide the Gophers with more of a spark.

“I was struggling a little bit a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “But I just had to get back on track and help put the team in a position to win. That’s my role.”

Fox will likely get some looks on Sunday as well, as the Buckeyes aren’t likely to forget Knight’s 33-point performance from last Thursday.

“They’re probably going to guard me differently,” Knight said. “But if they do that, it’s going to open up other people.”

The week will be a challenge for Minnesota, but while two big wins on the road would certainly be a boost to the team, coach Pam Borton said she wasn’t ready to call any games must-win games.

“I’ve been hearing from everybody for the past few weeks that every game we play is a make-or-break game,” she said. “I don’t think one game or two games will make or break your season. I think it’s an important week, but the games aren’t must-win games.”

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