There likely won’t be any confetti to celebrate coach Tubby Smith’s 500th career win if the Minnesota Golden Gophers win on the road against USC.
Saturday’s game will be strictly a business trip for the No. 14 Gophers as they shoot for their sixth straight win against an inferior Trograns squad that has lost both games against ranked opponents this season.
With three games left before the Big Ten Conference opener against Michigan State, Saturday’s game against USC will be the last major conference opponent before games against North Dakota State and Lafayette.
And if Minnesota wins against a team that has lost four straight, Tubby Smith will become the 19th active head coach to win 500 games, a pinnacle Smith has been building towards since he first became a head coach in 1991 at Tulsa.
Scheduled between two mid-major games, the match up with USC for the Gophers is a trap game,
The Gophers have looked better with each game and confidence has been as high as its ever been, but a growing trend of turnovers and missed free throws could make this game a lot closer than it should.
Minnesota down low will have their hands full containing 7-foot-2-inch Omar Oraby from Egypt. The junior comes off the bench but averages almost 6 points and 3 rebounds in relief for another Trojan big, seven-foot forward Dewayne Dedmon.
A junior, Dedmon averages 6 points but grabs more than 7 rebounds per game. He is coming off his best performance this season in a loss Wednesday against New Mexico where he shot 85 percent for 12 points and snatched 9 rebounds.
Dedmon is four inches taller than Mbakwe and too athletic for Mo Walker or Elliot Eliason to guard.
But nonetheless, if the Gopher guards can create tips from pass attempts inside, the points off turnovers created should be more than enough for a coast to the finish line and a memorable day for coach Smith.
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