After blowout loss at Michigan, Gophers looking to start another Big Ten conference win streak

After winning two games in a row, Minnesota lost in blowout fashion at Michigan on Wednesday night.

by C.J. Spang

Once again, Minnesotaís menís basketball team is looking to rebound after a blowout loss.

The last time the Gophers were pummeled on the road ó a 77-53 loss at Illinois on Jan. 25 ó Minnesota came back to Williams Arena and pounded a top-15 team in Indiana, 61-42, on Jan. 29.

ìWe know we can play with teams,” freshman guard Jamal Abu-Shamala said. ìWe also know that if we donít play well, the other teams can get the best of us. Itís sort of like a wake up call. We know we canít take a game lightly.”

This time, Minnesota (12-10, 3-8 Big Ten) hosts No. 18 Iowa on Saturday at Williams Arena after getting throttled by Michigan 72-50 on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m.

While history may be on the Gophersí side, it certainly wonít be easy to knock off the Big Tenís best.

ìWe need to go back to what we did when we were winning,” senior forward Zach Puchtel said. ìWe need to remember itís our toughness and scrappiness that has been winning us games and we need to get back to that.”

The Hawkeyes (20-6, 9-3 Big Ten) are on top of the conference ó a full game ahead of second-place Wisconsin. Iowa has won two in a row and six out of its past seven games ó five of those wins coming against ranked opponents.

Top players for the Big Ten leaders are seniors Adam Haluska, Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner, who are averaging 14.8, 14.2 and 13.1 points per game, respectively. Brunner also is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game.

ìWith Iowa, you have to concentrate on Brunner, Horner and Haluska,” senior guard Adam Boone said. ìThose three guys are the guys that do most the damage.”

The last time these two teams met, it turned into a triple-overtime thriller in which Iowa came out on top, 76-72, in Iowa City, Iowa.

But this time, the Gophers have the advantage of being at home.

ìWe love playing at home. We play great at home,” Puchtel said. ìWhen this place gets behind you, you feel like you could almost do anything.”

As of late, it looked like Minnesota could do anything, knocking off two top 15 teams in less than two weeks.

But the loss to Michigan hasnít put a dent in the playersí confidence.

ìItís a bump in the road,” Boone said. ìBut it doesnít have to be the way that we play. We understand that we were making strides in the right direction.

We just need to get right back to doing that.”