Things looked a little rough for Tubby Smith's ball club out of the gate Sunday against an improving Iowa Hawkeye squad. The Gophers took an early 6-3 lead before going on a five minute scoring drought that left them down by 8 to Iowa. However, in the remaining ten minutes of the opening half, Minnesota outscored Iowa 26-6, taking a 32-20 lead going into the locker room.
Once the second half started, Minnesota really never let up, going on a consistent scoring campaign that saw only one brief lapse early. Iowa struggled to get anything going offensively and was smothered by the size and dominance of the Gophers inside game. By the end of the first half, Iowa's best option down low - freshman stalwart Melsahn Basabe - had only taken one shot on seven minutes of play time. Minnesota's bigs put the Hawkeyes in foul trouble early and never really let up.
Minnesota finished over 46% from the floor but just 18% on three pointers (2-11). Iowa's perimeter defense forced the Gophers to look down low, where they easily dominated the foul-ridden Hawkeyes. Trevor Mbakwe finished with 24 points, and forward Rodney Williams added 13. Minnesota was 16-21 from the charity stripe.
Minnesota will next face Penn State on the road at the Bryce Jordan Center for a must-needed win; the Gophers can't afford to take a loss to the Nittany Lions with their record standing at 6-7 in Big Ten play.
Iowa made only 34% of their shots from the field and 21% from three point range. Junior guard Bryce Cartwright led the Hawkeyes with 11 points, and Roy Devyn Marble added 7 from the bench. Melsahn Basabe finished with only 4 points on 4 shot attempts in 17 minutes of play.
Iowa plays at Northwestern Thursday in what is essentially a battle for conference pride.