In its latest effort, Minnesota changed defenses enough to baffle a young Ohio State team still reeling from losing its one bona fide veteran. The Gophers went from zone, to man, to a full-court press, flustering the Buckeyes and giving the Gophers their 13th victory in 14 games.
"We run a lot of defenses," guard Lawrence Westbrook said. "We practice a lot of them. It just depends who we're playing against."
Minnesota's hot start isn't expected to cool anytime soon. With Iowa and Penn State upcoming during the week ahead, the Gophers should have little trouble running their record to 15-1 before their next real test — at Wisconsin on Jan. 15.
By then, the Gophers should have established themselves as the legitimate surprise team in a quickly improving Big Ten.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters — G Lawrence Westbrook, G Al Nolen, F Damian Johnson, F Ralph Sampson III, C Colton Iverson. Key Subs — G Blake Hoffarber, F Paul Carter, F Jamal Abu-Shamala, G/F Travis Busch, G Devoe Joseph, G Devron Bostick.
IN FOCUS: The Hawkeyes started strong, but have shown their youth in struggling through long stretches of ineffectiveness against Ohio State and Indiana. Playing on the road will be difficult, but the Gophers are separating themselves from Ohio State and Iowa as the most legitimate of the surprise teams during the early conference season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "A lot of teams play an eight-man or seven-man rotation, so once we've got more fresh bodies, it gives us a better chance to get off and running." — Forward Damian Johnson, on a Gophers team that routinely plays 12 bodies
Minnesota 82, High Point 56
Michigan State 70, Minnesota 58
Minnesota 68, Ohio State 59
at Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 8
vs. Penn State, Sunday, Jan. 11
at Wisconsin, Thursday, Jan. 15
at Northwestern, Sunday, Jan. 18