In the second of two meetings between the teams this season, Minnesota (15-9, 5-8 B1G) visits Ohio State (14-9, 7-5) Thursday night to kick off a two-game road trip that also sees Minnesota head to Michigan State Monday. Thursday’s game, which starts at 6 p.m.
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
• The teams met earlier this season in Minneapolis on Dec. 31 with the Buckeyes prevailing, 66-63. More information on that matchup and on the all-time series can be found below in this preview. Thursday will be the third time this season that the Gophers will have a rematch against an opponent. In both previous instances, against Nebraska and Wisconsin, Minnesota lost the first meeting and then won the second.
• Minnesota is 6-3 this season in road games, outscoring teams by an average of 71-64. The Gophers opened the season with four straight road wins for the seventh longest such streak in program history. Sara Scalia is the team’s top scorer on the road this year at 14.2 points per game, while Taiye Bello is not far behind her at 12.5 points and a team-best 9.8 rebounds per road contest. Gadiva Hubbard (11.0) and Jasmine Powell (10.6) are also in double figures away from home this year.
• Senior Taiye Bello has posted 11 double-doubles this year. She had a stretch of four straight toward the end of the non-conference and now has four in her last seven games. She also has had five other performances this year where she was either one point or one rebound away from a double-double. Her 11 double-doubles lead the Big Ten and are 21st nationally. In her career, Bello has 26 double-doubles to rank sixth in Gophers history, and the Gophers are 22-4 in those games. Through Monday’s games, she is one of just 31 players nationally, and the only one from the Big Ten, to be averaging a double-double and one of 24 with her season averages of 12.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game this year.
• After coming off the bench for her first 19 games, freshman Jasmine Powell has started each of the last five contests and is thriving in her new role. She made her first career start on Jan. 27 at Indiana, scoring a team-high 15 points while playing all 40 minutes. She followed that with 19 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists vs. Nebraska, then recorded 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while playing over 47 minutes against Rutgers on Feb. 2. Last Thursday at Wisconsin, she established a new career high with 24 points, as well as five rebounds and five assists before hitting 20 points again Monday vs. Michigan. She’s the first Gopher freshman to have consecutive 20-point games since Amanda Zahui B. in Feb. of 2014. As a reserve through 19 games, Powell was averaging 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals while playing 20.3 minutes per game. In her five games as a starter, Powell is posting 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals while playing 41.2 minutes per game.
FACING OHIO STATE
• Minnesota and Ohio State will meet for the 76th time on Thursday. It’s Minnesota’s third-most played series behind only Iowa (79 meetings) and Wisconsin (78).
• Series history has not been in the Gophers’ favor as they trail the Buckeyes, 59-16, and have lost six straight. The six-game losing streak is their longest active streak against one team, while the 59 all-time losses are their most against any other program.
• In Columbus, Ohio State holds a 27-3 series lead, including each of the last two. Prior to that, the Gophers had won two straight on the road against OSU.
• Minnesota freshman Klarke Sconiers and Ohio State freshman Kaelynn Satterfield were teammates at Christ the King High School in New York.
• Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen was teammates with Ohio State assistant coach Tamika Williams during the 2008 WNBA season with the Connecticut Sun.
• Ohio State is 14-9 overall on the season and 7-5 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have won their last three games, their longest win streak in conference play this year. Prior to that, they had last three of their previous four games.
• As a team, Ohio State leads the Big Ten and is 45th nationally with 540 3-pointers attempted. It is also second in the league and 36th in the country in blocks per game at 4.7. In conference games, the Buckeyes have made a league-best 8.2 3-pointers per game.
• Dorka Juhasz leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. Also in double figures for OSU is Kierstan Bell at 11.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Braxtin Miller is third in the Big Ten with a 2.39 assist-to-turnover ratio.
EARLIER THIS SEASON AGAINST THE BUCKEYES
• Minnesota saw its 11-game win streak come to an end on Dec. 31 in a 66-63 loss to Ohio State at Williams Arena.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)