Minnesota coach Ben Johnson appeared on Gopher Basketball Weekly on Tuesday to discuss his team’s upcoming game against Indiana. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET from Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
Johnson and the Gophers are bottom of the Big Ten standings with a 1-7 conference record and 7-11 overall. Minnesota’s only Big Ten win came on Jan. 12 at Ohio State when Dawson Garcia’s 28 points and nine rebounds led the Gophers to a 70-67 win.
On the other hand, Indiana is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten with a three-game winning streak against Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State, each by at least 13 points.
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Here’s what Johnson said about Indiana.
On the Hoosiers’ recent winning streak…
Johnson: They play good basketball. You work your way back to health. I think Xavier Johnson will still be out, but Race [Thompson] last game played a bit. I think when those guys were out it gave some other guys an opportunity to improve and get better and kind of get involved and fit into the mix. I think you see that. I think you see a confident team that has gained a bit of depth now that the players off the bench are gaining that level of experience. I think they flipped the switch a bit and those last two games were also meaningful, especially the home game against Michigan State. They play with that energy and they’re a really good defensive team and now they’re gaining that confidence on offense and I think it starts with Trayce [Jackson-Davis.] I think he’s doing a really good job with the developments he’s made in his game to now be a goalscorer and a passer to make it really difficult.
How Trayce Jackson-Davis improved…
Johnson: I think just his general feeling. I think when he came in he was obviously very gifted but he relied a lot on his athletics to thrive whereas now he still has the athletics but he added the skills. He can look up and shoot a bit. He can stand up and push you, but what he can make of the mail and become a passerby, he makes people better. And now it’s like if you want to double team, he’ll find the editor. He will find the opposite jump and he is ready to do that. Whereas before I thought you could speed it up somehow. They could double some turnovers from the post, from the post crowd or from the post, while now I really think some of his game has improved and he’s proud of hitting guys and making his teammates better.
Three games in a row against Zach Edey, Hunter Dickinson and Jackson-Davis…
Johnson: The upside is that if you can face them back-to-back, the scouting report doesn’t change drastically, and your defensive concepts don’t change. So don’t confuse them with our boys. It’s, ‘Hey guys, this is the same game plan that we’ve been using for the last few games. Let’s just get better at it and rely on it and draw on it. From that point of view, just preparing in the same way for a few weeks definitely helps.
- THOMPSON RETURNS AGAINST MICHIGAN STATE: Sixth-year Indiana forward Race Thompson has been out since his knee injury on Jan. 5 in Iowa but returned to action Sunday against Michigan State. CLICK HERE
- YASIR ROSEMOND RADIO SHOW: Indiana’s assistant coach Yasir Rosemond hosted the “Inside Indiana Basketball” radio show Monday along with play-by-play announcer Don Fischer. Here are the highlights of the show. CLICK HERE
- BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: After Purdue, our firm spot at the top, the next four teams all lost last week. But they’ve done enough all season to keep their spots. Welcome to Volume 5 of our Big Ten Power Leaderboard, which has been a real challenge to put together. CLICK HERE
- JACKSON-DAVIS COLLECTS AWARDS: Senior Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was named Big Ten’s Player of the Week on Monday, and he also received several national awards after averaging 66 points in victories over Illinois and Michigan State. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA RECEIVES VOTES IN AP POLL: Indiana basketball just fell short of the Associated Press’s top 25 poll on Monday, earning 61 votes behind Duke’s 102. With losses from Houston and Kansas, Purdue returned to the top and is the only Big Ten team in that ranking Week. Here’s the full poll. CLICK HERE
- FAMILY DAY FOR BATES: It was a big day for the Bates family as second warden Tamar scored 17 points and his daughter Leilani won the baby race at halftime. CLICK HERE