Minnesota vs Southern California

Time: 10:30 P.M. EST
  •  

Tubby Smith isn't quite ready to admit this Minnesota team is playing the best early season basketball of the six he's coached. His squad, however, is making it increasingly difficult to say otherwise.

It's also on the verge of helping Smith achieve a significant milestone.

Smith looks to become the 19th active Division I coach to reach 500 victories Saturday night in Los Angeles, where the 14th-ranked Golden Gophers face struggling USC looking to extend their winning streak to six.

Minnesota (9-1) has gotten off to some fast starts since Smith's arrival in 2007 - winning at least 10 of its first 11 games in all but one of his first five seasons - but there's reason to believe this one may carry a bit more long-term promise.

The Gophers have four players averaging double figures in points, led by sophomore guard Andre Hollins with 13.7, and they're balanced all over the floor. Minnesota is shooting 11.8 percent better than its opponents, averaging 8.6 more rebounds and 4.5 more blocks while outscoring them by 16.1 points per game - all among the top 20 marks in the nation.

Smith's team has bounced back from its loss to then-No. 5 Duke in the Bahamas with impressive victories over Memphis and Florida State, part of a streak it stretched to five with an 88-64 thrashing of 2011 Summit League champion South Dakota State on Wednesday.

The Gophers are starting to look like a serious contender in the loaded Big Ten. Smith, though, isn't sure if this is the best that one of his teams has played early since he landed in Minneapolis.

"It's hard to determine," Smith said. "We have a lot of depth right now and that's the key. We don't have much of a dropoff because you're bringing in a guy like Trevor Mbakwe and bringing in another talented player, Julian Welch. You're bringing in Andre Ingram. So it's the most depth that we've had."

There may not be a more significant player than Hollins, who on Tuesday gave Minnesota a boost in one area it had seriously been lacking. The Gophers came into the game connecting on 29.7 percent of their 3-point attempts - 274th in the nation - but Hollins went 6 of 7 and Minnesota 10 of 22 overall against the Jackrabbits.

"We're all capable of driving. We're all capable of shooting the shots. So I think that's what makes it difficult (for opponents)," said guard Joe Coleman, who finished with 15 points.

USC (3-5) hasn't looked capable of much offensively, shooting 41.5 percent overall while leading scorer J.T. Terrell (12.5 ppg) is connecting on 32.6 percent.

The Trojans shot a season-high 52.9 percent at No. 18 New Mexico on Wednesday, but couldn't hold a 10-point lead in the first half. The Lobos went on a 25-6 run to close the half, the key stretch in handing USC a 75-67 loss.

"That killed us," coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We didn't guard anybody. We couldn't guard a lunch in a kindergarten class."

The primary issue for O'Neill's team when it visited Minneapolis last season was on the other end of the floor. USC shot 32.7 percent in a 55-40 loss as Welch paced the Gophers with 16 points and six assists.

This is Minnesota's first trip to Los Angeles to face USC since a 74-67 win in December 1980.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
College Basketball Current Odds
GameCurrent Line
Minnesota
@ Southern California
-6.5
 
Big Ten
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Wisconsin16-236-44
Maryland14-428-713
Michigan St.12-627-1223
Iowa12-622-1243
Purdue12-621-1355
Ohio St.11-724-1141
Indiana9-920-1461
Illinois9-919-1473
Michigan8-1016-1680
Minnesota6-1218-1598
Northwestern6-1215-17124
Nebraska5-1313-18158
Penn St.4-1418-16108
Rutgers2-1610-22179
Pac 12
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Arizona16-234-45
Utah13-526-919
Oregon13-526-1027
UCLA11-722-1448
Stanford9-924-1359
Arizona St.9-918-16102
Oregon St.8-1017-14133
California7-1118-1595
Colorado7-1116-18116
Wash. State7-1113-18169
Washington5-1316-15125
USC3-1512-20208

Related Video

 
 
 
 
Other Games
TOWS 40 Final
GTOWN 46
ARK 67 Final
MICH 80
LBSU 55 Final
OHST 89
CLST 63 Final
NCST 80
UMES 60 Final
CINCY 92
UMKC 47 Final
LOU 99
LOYC 61 Final
MIST 73
COLO 54 Final
KAN 90
TNST 38 Final
MIZZ 68
TEMP 67 Final
DUKE 90
MOST 42 Final
OKST 62
CCSU 69 Final
IND 100
BRO 57 Final
ND 84
MONM 56 Final
SYR 108
ETSU 55 Final
UNC 78
ARIZ 66 Final
CLEM 54
NCO 54 Final
WICH 80
VALPO 52 Final
NMEX 65
ILL 85 Final
GONZ 74