Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - The 23rd-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers attempt to halt their unexpected slide on Tuesday night when they welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to Williams Arena for a Big Ten Conference showdown.
In a conference chock full of outstanding teams, Nebraska has done little to stand out, going 2-6 in Big Ten play. Both of those victories have come in the Cornhuskers' last two games however, as they beat Penn State on Jan. 19 (68-64) and dismissed Northwestern on Saturday afternoon (64-49) to improve to 11-10 overall.
Minnesota began the season as one of the nation's most impressive teams, using an 11-game winning streak to catapult to 15-1, but since then things have gone south in a hurry. The treacherous road in the Big Ten has gotten the best of the Gophers, who have lost four straight games, culminating in a heartbreaking last-second defeat at Wisconsin on Saturday, 45-44, which resulted in a slip from No. 12 to No. 23 in the polls.
Minnesota holds a 48-13 advantage in the all-time series over Nebraska, including a season sweep in 2011-12.
The Cornhuskers put together one of their best all-around efforts of the season in their latest 15-point win, out-shooting Northwestern from the field (45.1 percent to 32.1 percent) and winning the rebounding battle by a convincing 43-34 margin. Dylan Talley was the catalyst in the triumph, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 from the field while also corralling eight rebounds. Brandon Ubel logged his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Ray Gallegos added 11 points.
Nebraska has been a solid defensive squad all season long, allowing opponents to score just 61.2 ppg, but it has not taken advantage on offense, scoring a league-low 58.5 ppg. Talley is the team's leading scorer with 13.4 ppg, but he's been a detriment with his poor field goal percentage (.352). Gallegos (12.7 ppg) has also been sub par from the field (.387), while Ubel brings stability to the frontcourt with 12.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
Minnesota led a defensive struggle against Wisconsin on the road by two with under four minutes to play, but the Badgers came back to take a 45-43 lead with four seconds left. The Gophers had a chance to tie the game when Rodney Williams stepped to the foul line with one second on the clock, but after making the first free throw, he missed the game-tying attempt. They shot just 34.8 percent from the field in the loss, with Andre Hollins (20 points) and Trevor Mbakwe (eight points, 10 rebounds) the only two players who put together performances worth writing home about.
Mbakwe (9.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg) has been one of the most physical forwards in the Big Ten, but he's listed as questionable for this matchup with a bruised wrist. In the event of his absence, the team will have to rely more heavily on Williams (11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg) in the frontcourt. Minnesota, which scores 73.2 ppg, while allowing just 61.3 ppg, is usually guard-heavy with its production, as Andre Hollins (14.2 ppg, 3.5 apg), Austin Hollins (10.8 ppg, 2.0 spg), and Joe Coleman (10.1 ppg) are all strong backcourt options.