Minnesota got big efforts from Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen earlier this month in a victory over Purdue. One-half of that equation will have to change in the rematch.
The No. 16 Golden Gophers will continue to adjust to playing without Nolen on Saturday when they try to hand the 12th-ranked Boilermakers their first home loss.
Minnesota (16-4, 5-3 Big Ten) began its current four-game win streak with a 70-67 home victory over Purdue (17-4, 6-2) on Jan. 13. Hoffarber had a season-high 26 points and Nolen 13, eight assists and three steals.
Nolen, though, is out for the season due to a broken right foot. Hoffarber took over the point guard duties and had 20 points, four assists and four turnovers in an 81-70 win over Northwestern on Wednesday.
"I just have to get acclimated to playing the point guard position," Hoffarber said. "I have a little in the past, but I think it's similar. Now I'm getting people shots more and getting it into the post and setting up the offense, but I don't think it's too big of a difference."
Trevor Mbakwe had 18 points and 14 rebounds in his return to the lineup for the first time in four games following a disciplinary demotion. The 6-foot-8 Mbakwe gives Minnesota four players at least 6-7 in the lineup, and it is unlikely to change with eight healthy Gophers available.
"I think matchups really dictate how you play sometimes," coach Tubby Smith said. "Obviously, we have a short bench now, so you have to adjust. The big lineup was pretty impressive tonight."
That kind of size could be needed to try to slow down Big Ten scoring leader JaJuan Johnson, who averages 20.6 points. The 6-10 Johnson had 29 points and 11 boards in the earlier meeting for his third double-double in his last four games against Minnesota.
That effort marked the start of a season-high five straight games in which Johnson has scored at least 20. He's averaging 24.4 points and shooting 53.5 percent from the field in that span.
"He's really grown as a decision-maker in the post," coach Matt Painter said. "He's always had the ability to make plays, make baskets. His strength has really helped him grow in that area and be more confident."
Purdue could use a better effort from E'Twaun Moore than the five points on 2-of-14 shooting he produced in the earlier loss to Minnesota. Moore should fare better at Mackey Arena, where he's averaging 21.0 points on 47.1 percent in four Big Ten home games compared to his 11.5 scoring average and 30.2 percent shooting in four road conference games.
The Boilermakers are trying to start 12-0 at home for the first time in four seasons.
Purdue is halfway through a four-game stretch against ranked opponents, which concludes with a matchup at No. 17 Wisconsin next Tuesday. The Boilermakers won 86-76 over then-No. 17 Michigan State last Saturday before Tuesday's 87-64 loss at top-ranked Ohio State.
Johnson had 22 points and Moore 16 as Purdue shot 38.1 percent. The Boilermakers shot 38.3 percent earlier this month against the Gophers, who are limiting opponents to a Big Ten-best 39.2 percent from the field.