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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Indiana guard Robert Johnson scored 19 against Rutgers after going a combined 3 for 21 in the two games prior.

Friday, February 09, 2018 1:00 am

Hoosiers looking to get sweep of Gophers

Teams enter rematch with lineup changes

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana vs. Minnesota

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington

Records: Indiana (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten), Minnesota (14-12, 3-10)

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: 1250 AM

After three straight games against the Big Ten's top three teams last week, Indiana is in the midst of four in a row against the bottom four teams over the following two weeks.

The Hoosiers started that stretch with a 65-43 victory over Rutgers on Monday and will continue it tonight at Assembly Hall against a reeling Minnesota team (14-12, 3-10 Big Ten). The Golden Gophers were once ranked in the top 15 but have lost six games in a row.

“They're playing a little bit smaller now, so they're more difficult to guard,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “We played them up there, beginning of the month of January and had a great win, and I'm sure they'll be ready to play when we see them Friday.”

Minnesota has some injury problems entering today's contest. starting guards Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer are questionable with shoulder and shin injuries, respectively.

“We're preparing as if he will be available,” Miller said of Coffey, who averages 14 points. “Knowing how talented he is and watching them on film, he obviously makes them better.”

The first time these teams met, Indiana (13-12, 6-7) came back from an eight-point second-half deficit to win 75-71. Senior Robert Johnson had possibly the best game of his Indiana career, scoring 28 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

Johnson scored just 10 points combined on 3-for-21 shooting against No. 14 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan State. Against Rutgers, though, he had 19 points and played much more aggressively on offense.

The last time the Hoosiers played Minnesota, IU freshman Justin Smith had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points in what looked like a breakout performance.

In nine games since, Smith has scored in double figures just once and not at all since Jan. 22 against Maryland. In the past two games, senior Freddie McSwain Jr. has started in his place.

McSwain has provided a spark, piling up 25 rebounds in his two starts, although he has trouble finishing around the rim. Smith has played just 22 minutes total in those two games.

“It's just me working hard,” McSwain said after the Rutgers game of his insertion into the lineup. “I guess (Miller) said I earned it. I don't know, I guess so, but I'm just going to keep going in and keep building off my game.”

The move to start McSwain is part of a bigger shake-up that also saw sophomore Devonte Green start in place of senior Josh Newkirk. Newkirk has missed 14 straight shots over his last three games and has scored only nine points combined in his last five.

Green provided a spark against the Scarlet Knights with nine points and four rebounds. 

“Right now, Devonte's played himself into more minutes,” Miller said during his weekly radio show Thursday. “However the game is flowing, (whichever) guy is playing well, we'll stick with them.

“But these guys are all going to play a lot of minutes. ... I think if we find a rotation or group that sticks, we'd like to stay with that as much as possible.”

One of the keys to beating Minnesota is shutting down junior forward Jordan Murphy. The 6-foot-6 Texan ranks fourth in the Big Ten at 17.7 points per game and leads the league with 11.7 rebounds per game. 

The Hoosiers have outrebounded their last two opponents, including a 53-29 demolishing of Michigan State on the boards.