Gophers hit road again to play USC

The Trojans lost to Nebraska and Illinois earlier this season.
December 06, 2012

The Gophers will hit the road again after a two-game homestand to play Southern California on Saturday.

The Trojans (3-5) have struggled in recent years, and they’ve already dropped two games to Big Ten opponents Nebraska and Illinois this season.

No. 14 Minnesota (9-1) will put its five-game winning streak on the line in its fifth game away from home in its past seven.

“We’re not ignoring anybody,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “Going into anybody’s home … court, it’s tough.”

Smith’s squad is fresh off a season-high 88 points in a win against South Dakota State. It will play a Trojans team that has allowed 66 points per game, including 94 to Illinois on Nov. 19.

Andre Hollins passed Rodney Williams as the team’s top scorer this season after scoring 22 points against SDSU. Williams had a season-low two points in the win, but he’s still the team’s second-leading scorer.

Hollins said he still has plenty to work on, despite having a season-best zero turnovers against SDSU.

“I have to start playing like that more consistently,” Hollins said. “I have to get better at staying focused the whole game.”

Minnesota shot 1-for-13 from long range during Saturday’s game against North Florida.

The Gophers placed an extra emphasis on shooting in the practices leading up to Tuesday’s game.

“We’ve won games without three pointers before, so it’s not a main priority,” Austin Hollins said, “but it paid off for everybody [against SDSU].”

Minnesota has spread the ball well this season, averaging 17 assists. It had 21 assists on 33 field goals Tuesday.

“I like the unselfishness that we play with,” Smith said.

The Gophers complete their home-and-home series with USC on Saturday — the Trojans came to Williams Arena last year and lost 55-40.

The series came together because Smith and USC head coach Kevin O’Neill have been friends for a long time, Gophers director of basketball operations Joe Esposito told the Minnesota Daily in April.

Collectively, the Gophers have emphasized not looking past their nonconference opponents as they’ve risen in the rankings.

But Andre Hollins, who shot 6-for-7 from long range Tuesday, said he’s ready for more.

“I can’t wait for the Big Ten to start,” he said.

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