In the only regular season meeting between the teams this season, Minnesota (15-10, 5-9 B1G) visits Michigan State State (12-12, 5-8) Monday night. The game, which starts at 6 p.m.
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
• Minnesota is 6-4 this season in road games. 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 12.7 points and a team-best 9.4 rebounds per road contest. Jasmine Powell (11.6) and Gadiva Hubbard (10.9) are also in double figures away from home this year.
• The Gophers lead the Big Ten and rank 21st in the country in free throw percentage at 76.1 percent, making 340 of 447 attempts. That figure is on pace to be the third best in school history and the best since the 2012-13 campaign. The next closest Big Ten team to Minnesota in percentage is Iowa, which ranks 60th at 73.8 percent. The Gophers have had 11 games this year where they’ve collectively shot 80 percent or better at the line, including performances of 11-11 vs. Bryant, 27-31 vs. Milwaukee and 31-35 at Ohio State. The 31 makes against the Buckeyes tied for the 10th most in a game in team history.
• Senior Taiye Bello has posted 11 double-doubles this year, five of which have come in conference play. 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 23rd nationally. In her career, Bello has 26 double-doubles to rank sixth in Gophers history, and the Gophers are 22-4 in those games. Though her season averages have slipped slightly below that of a double-double, through Thursday’s games she is one of just 23 players nationally, and the only one from the Big Ten, with her season averages of 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this year.
• After coming off the bench for her first 19 games, freshman Jasmine Powell has started each of the last six 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. She then rattled off three straight games of at least 20 points, including a career-high 24 at Wisconsin on Feb. 6. She’s the first Gopher freshman to have three consecutive 20-point games in at least the last 25 years. As a reserve through 19 games, Powell was averaging 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists while playing 20.3 minutes per game. In her six games as a starter, Powell is posting 19.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists while playing 39.2 minutes per game.
FACING MICHIGAN STATE
• Minnesota and Michigan State meet for the 67th time Monday. The Gophers trail in the all-time series 43-23.
• In East Lansing, Minnesota trails Michigan State, 24-7. The Gophers are looking to snap a seven-game losing streak at the Breslin Center, last winning there on Feb. 26, 2009. It’s the team’s second longest active road losing streak behind losing nine straight at Iowa.
• Minnesota has three Michigan natives on its roster. Jasmine Powell is from Detroit, which is about 90 minutes southeast of East Lansing. She won two state championships at Detroit County Day HS, including the 2017 title which took place at the Breslin Center. Kehinde and Taiye Bello are from Southfield (Southfield-Lathrup HS), which is about 70 minutes southeast of East Lansing.
• Michigan State has one Minnesotan on its roster: Nia Hollie from Minneapolis and Hopkins High School.
• Michigan State is 12-12 overall on the season and 5-8 in the Big Ten. The Spartans started league action 1-3 before winning three in a row to get above .500. However, they lost their next five before snapping the streak with a win over Rutgers Thursday.
• As a team, Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in 3-pointers attempted (539) and opponent 3-percentage (.286), and third in steals (232), steals per game (9.7), and turnovers forced per game (17.88).
• Nia Clouden leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game and is second in the Big Ten with a .813 free throw percentage. Taryn McCutcheon is also in double figures at 10.9 points per game, while Kayla Belles is the team’s top rebounder at 4.7 boards per contest.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)