Home win could help to heal Gophers string of losses

Gophers vs. Georgia State

Matt Mead

Gophers vs. Georgia State 61-68

It hasnâÄôt been a good week for the Gophers. They lost by an embarrassing 29 points to Michigan State on Wednesday. On Saturday they were upset by Ohio State. Coming back from Ohio State, four players got sick âÄî Blake Hoffarber, Jamal Abu-Shamala, Travis Busch and Colton Iverson âÄî with either the flu or food poisoning. On Monday, the new top-25 rankings came out: The Gophers werenâÄôt in either, dropping from No. 19. And after playing for a tie for first place against the Spartans, they now sit in a tie for fifth with seven games left. But there has been good news for the Gophers, too. ItâÄôs certainly a good time to be playing last-place Indiana at home where, as 16-point favorites, they have a chance to keep from snowballing. âÄúOur guys have shown a real resiliency and ability to put things behind them and move on,âÄù coach Tubby Smith said. The Hoosiers are 1-9 in the Big Ten, coming off a 28-point loss to Michigan State, and will be even less of a threat without guard Devan Dumes. Dumes scored 19 points against the Gophers on Jan. 25 and is the teamâÄôs leading scorer in Big Ten play (averaging 14 points per game). Indiana suspended the junior indefinitely after he was ejected from the Michigan State game for throwing a flagrant elbow. âÄúReally, we donâÄôt worry too much about who they put out there,âÄù Shamala said. âÄúEven if they put a bunch of guys out there weâÄôve never heard of, theyâÄôre still going to be good.âÄù On MinnesotaâÄôs end, there is plenty to improve on from its pair of losses. Of most concern for Smith is the teamâÄôs turnovers âÄî they had 17 against Ohio State, leading to 14 points and costing them several chances to get back in the game. Sophomore point guard Al Nolen had five of those turnovers and has slumped since a 17-point game against Purdue on Jan. 22. âÄúWeâÄôve been turning the ball over entirely too much, especially with our backcourt starters,âÄù Smith said. âÄúWe were just lackadaisical. I know Al threw three or four one-armed passes. Just some bad habits weâÄôve gotten into.âÄù The Gophers are starting to shoot better, however, and that will likely continue against Indiana, which is last in the Big Ten in shooting defense. Hoffarber was the highlight against the Buckeyes, breaking a slump that lasted the first 10 games of the conference season. The sophomore hit six three-pointers (one of which he was fouled on) in the final 14 minutes of the game, finishing with 19 points. The sophomore was throwing up on Sunday, but like the other three with the flu/food poisoning, said he will be fine for the game. And especially with Dumes out, junior forward Damian Johnson said theyâÄôve made it a priority to get Hoffarber open shots. âÄúHeâÄôs hot, he has to get the ball,âÄù Johnson said. âÄúA couple games ago, he was in a tough slump, but now heâÄôs hitting so we have to keep him going, all the way to the NCAA tournament.âÄù