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Game #8: Cornell at No. 15/13 Minnesota
Tip off: Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:00 p.m. CST
Site: Williams Arena (14,625), Minneapolis, Minn.
2010-11 Records: Cornell (2-5, 0-0 Ivy); Minnesota (6-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Series Record: Minnesota leads 4-1 (includes forfeit win)
Last Meeting: Minnesota won 71-54, December 6, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Radio: WVBR 93.5 FM (Barry Leonard)
TV: Big Ten Network
Live Stats: check availability at www.GopherSports.com
Live Video: check availability at www.GopherSports.com
Tickets: available by calling (607) 254-BEAR
HEAD COACH BILL COURTNEY
Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his first season at Cornell (2-5, .286) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher ‘44 Coach of Men’s Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.
Cornell brings a four-game losing streak into the contest, the last game before a two-week break for final exams. With a month and a half before the beginning of Ivy League play, the Big Red is looking for continued improvement after several tough losses, including defeats to the road to the defending Patriot League champion (Lehigh), the preseason America East favorite (Boston University) and an unbeaten and top 10 ranked Big East team (Syracuse).
Several current Cornell players, including senior forward Adam Wire and junior guard Chris Wroblewski, saw the floor two years ago when the Big Red gave an unbeaten Golden Gophers’ squad a challenge at Williams Arena. Cornell led by as many as 13 points in the second half before the home team rebounded for a 71-54 triumph.
After a strong second half effort against the Orange, the Big Red is looking to carry over the momentum into another contest against a 2009-10 postseason team, the fourth in a row and fifth in its last seven games. Sophomore Errick Peck had a breakout game with 14 points against the Orange, including a pair of thunderous dunks. He also had a pair of assists. Wroblewski, the team’s leading scorer, had seven assists, four rebounds and three steals.
• 2010-11 Record: 6-1 (0-0 Big Ten).
• Conference: Big Ten.
• Head Coach: Tubby Smith (High Point ‘73), fourth season at Minnesota, 20th season overall.
• After opening 6-0 with wins over top mid-major teams Wofford and Siena, as well as victories over Western Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia to win the 2010 Honda Puerto Rico Tip-Off title, Minnesota lost its first game of the season with an 87-79 home loss to Virginia in the first game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday evening.
• Four players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Blake Hoffarber (15.6 ppg., 4.9 apg.).
• Both Trevor Mbakwe (14.3 ppg., 9.3 rpg.) and Ralph Sampson III (11.4 ppg., 6.4 rpg., 2.4 bpg.) have each played all seven contests this season.
• Devoe Joseph made his season debut in the loss to Virginia and scored 16 points.
• The Golden Gophers are holding opponents to 41 percent shooting overall, but have surrendered 38 percent shooting from 3-point range. Minnesota is outrebounding opponents by 4.4 rpg.
• Head coach Tubby Smith directed Kentucky to the 1997-98 NCAA championship and has guided teams to 16 NCAA tournaments with five Sweet 16 appearances and three Elite Eight finishes. He has a 456-185 all-time record as a head coach at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky and now Minnesota.
CORNELL VS. THE BIG TEN: The Big Red holds a 13-31 all-time record against current members of the Big Ten Conference and is 1-4 all-time vs. Minnesota. The Big Red has also faced Illinois (1-3), Indiana (0-1), Iowa (0-3), Michigan (0-3), Michigan State (1-5), Northwestern (1-2), Ohio State (3-5), Penn State (5-4), Purdue (0-1) and Wisconsin (1-0). Cornell snapped a 39-year stretch without a Big Ten victory when it defeated Northwestern 64-61 on Nov. 10, 2006 and defeated Wisconsin last year in the second round of the NCAA tournament en route to its Sweet 16 finish.
THE SERIES: Minnesota has won all five meetings between the teams dating back to the first meeting in 1903-04, a 46-18 Golden Gopher victory, though it later forfeited the 1976-77 contest for use of an ineligible player. The last meeting came in 2008-09, a contest Cornell led by as many as 13 points early in the second half before Minnesota went on an extended 25-2 run in picking up a 71-54 victory.
THE STORY LINES
• After a 2-1 start, Cornell will attempt to avoid its first five-game losing skid since losing the final five contests of the 2003-04 campaign when it meets No. 15/13 Minnesota.
• The contest will be the second against a ranked team on the road this week after falling at No. 8/7 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, 78-58, on Tuesday evening.
• Cornell is in the midst of a five-game road swing, with Cornell dropping its first three contests against defending Patriot League champion Lehigh and preseason America East favorite Boston University (by a combined eight points), and perennial Big East power Syracuse.
• The contest will be a return home for sophomore Josh Figini from Chisago Lakes, Minn. (Chisago Lakes HS), who was named third-team all-state and was one of 15 finalists for Mr. Basketball in Minnesota by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Chicago Lakes is approximately 45 miles Northeast of Minneapolis.
• The last time Cornell and Minnesota met, the Big Red gave the Golden Gophers a scare. The visitors led by as many as 13 points in the second half before Minnesota rallied behind a dominant second half defensive effort for a 71-54 victory on Dec. 6, 2008.
• The Big Red’s last meeting against a ranked team out of the Big Ten was memorable, as Cornell dominated then-No. 16 Wisconsin 87-69 to advance to the 2009-10 NCAA tournament Sweet 16.
CORNELL VS. RANKED OPPONENTS: When Cornell faces No. 15/13 Minnesota, the Big Red will have a chance to knock off its third ranked opponent in the last five games against Top 25 squads. After dispatching of No. 12/13 Temple in the NCAA first round and No. 16/19 Wisconsin in the second round last season, the Big Red would match its total of wins over ranked teams in its first 110 years of basketball combined with a win over the Golden Gophers. The Big Red snapped an 18-game losing streak against Top 25 teams with the win over the Owls and is now 5-65 against ranked squads. The Big Red’s previous win was a 74-54 triumph over then-No. 19 California, at the 1992 Seton Hall/Meadowlands Tournament. That team featured Jason Kidd (who sat out the game) and former NBA player Lamond Murray. The Big Red’s other wins came against then-No. 17 Syracuse in 1957 (60-54), then-No. 3 Princeton in 1967 (62-56) and a win by forfeit against No. 15 Minnesota in a game vacated by the Gophers after using an ineligible player in 1976.
• Cornell is 74-26 in the last four seasons (.740).
• The Big Red is 38-4 in Ivy League contests over the last three years (.905).
• Cornell is 42-4 over its last 46 home games (.913), including 25-2 in the last three seasons (.926) and 37-3 over the last four (.925).
• The team is 21-9 in its last 30 games away from Newman Arena (.700) and 16-8 in its last 24 true road games (.667).
• In non-conference games, the Big Red is 36-22 over the last four seasons (.621).
• The Big Red has lost four straight games and is looking to avoid its first five-game losing skid since losing its final five games of the 2003-04 season.
• The Big Red’s last five opponents have shot just 21-of-93 from 3-point range (.253). Its foes have made just 29 percent of its shots from beyond the arc this year.
• Cornell has limited three of its last four opponents under 37 percent shooting from the floor.
• In its five losses, Cornell has been outrebounded by an average of 14.0 rebounds per game with an average of 14.6 offensive boards in those contests. In the wins, Cornell has been even on the boards in both victories and have surrendered 8.0 offensive rebounds.
• The Big Red has been whistled for 23.0 fouls per game in its losses and 14.0 in its wins.
• In its two wins, the Big Red has turned the ball over an average of 11.0 times per game.
• The Big Red has nearly doubled its opponents’ 3-point field goals made (61-35).
• Cornell’s opponents have posted a negative assist:turnover ratio in six of seven games this season.
• In its last four games, Cornell is shooting .784 from the free-throw line (40-of-51).
• Big Red opponents have made more free throws (125) than Cornell has attempted (113) and have posted at least 10 offensive rebounds in six of seven games.
• Cornell has made at least seven 3-point field goals in five straight contests and in six of seven games in 2010-11.
• Offensively, Cornell has scored at least 70 points just once, this season, but its opponents have hit that mark just twice.
• When you take out the two contests against Big East teams, Cornell is shooting 39 percent from 3-point range (49-of-126) and has forced 75 turnovers to just 45 assists for its opponents.
• Senior Adam Wire has 25 of his 49 rebounds on the offensive glass. No other Cornell player has more than eight offensive rebounds (Mark Coury).
• Wire has at least three offensive rebounds in six of the team’s first seven games (3.6 per game).
• His 49 rebounds is also more than double the next-highest Cornell total (23, Aaron Osgood).
• Wire is 2-for-3 from 3-point range this season and is 3-for-4 for his career.
• In his last two games, junior Chris Wroblewski is averaging 7.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.0 rebounds with a 2.5:1 assist:turnover ratio.
• Wroblewski has made his last 14 free-throw attempts over his last four games.
• Senior Max Groebe is 2-for-17 from 3-point range in his last three contests.
• Junior Drew Ferry has shot 13-of-29 (.448) from 3-point range in the last four games.
• Ferry has committed just two turnovers in the last four games (102 minutes) with six steals and 13 3-pointers during the same span.
• In his last two games (both starts), senior Mark Coury is averaging 7.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 26.0 minutes per game.
NEXT UP: After a two-week break for final exams, the Big Red will be back in action when they face Binghamton on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. in Vestal, N.Y. Cornell returns home to meet Bucknell at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall on Monday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.