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Preview: Golden Gophers (25-13) at Badgers (30-8)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: January 26, 2013 2:00 PM EDT
  

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith wants his players to hold themselves accountable for their recent disappointing performances rather than trying to pass the blame.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, is fully aware its offensive effort must improve in order to help support its Big Ten-best defense.

The 12th-ranked Golden Gophers look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss overall and a 15th in 16 road games against the Badgers on Saturday.

Minnesota (15-4, 3-3) got off to a hot start that now seems like a distant memory after Smith blasted his squad following Wednesday's 55-48 loss at Northwestern. It was the first defeat to an unranked foe for the Gophers, who had fallen to Indiana and Michigan - both ranked No. 5 at the time - following a 3-0 start to conference play.

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"When you're losing, people point the finger," Smith said. "That's the quickest way to start. That's the way it starts, instead of being `my fault.' Then, you look at the refs. You look at the coach. Somebody's not doing something.

"That's what losers do."

The Gophers shot a season-worst 33.3 percent and went 7 of 17 from the free-throw line Wednesday while committing 15 turnovers, including a career-worst seven by Andre Hollins.

Trevor Mbakwe was the lone bright spot with 14 points and 16 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double. He's made 63.6 percent from the field in those games.

His team, however, has shot 41.9 percent during this skid after hitting 52.6 percent in its first three conference games.

"We have a tendency to just kind of take ourselves out of the game with our attitude about `They're hitting me' or `I'm being pushed,'" said Smith, whose team is committing a league-worst 14.7 turnovers per game. "We've tried in practice to simulate not calling fouls. I guess we didn't do a good enough job of that."

The Badgers (13-6, 4-2) aren't blaming anyone but themselves for shooting a season-worst 29.6 percent in Tuesday's 49-47 home loss to No. 13 Michigan State. They've lost two straight after a surprising 64-59 victory at then-No. 2 Indiana on Jan. 15.

"We know that we're more than capable of heating up and getting out of this slump," senior Jared Berggren said. "Part of it is putting in extra time and getting into a rhythm. It's something I'll improve on in the next game and I don't think it'll be an issue going forward."

Berggren has shot 33.3 percent over his last three games, failing to score in double figures in any of them after doing so in six straight. He's missed 15 of his last 17 3-point attempts.

He was 2 of 8 at the foul line Tuesday as Wisconsin went 7 for 18. The Badgers are shooting a Big Ten-worst 52.1 percent at the free-throw line in conference play.

"It's cost us games before," forward Mike Bruesewitz said. "We've got to get in the gym and just start knocking them down. It's plain and simple. It can't be an excuse anymore."

The Badgers' defense hasn't been an issue, though, giving up a Big Ten-low 55.4 points per game. Their last 19 opponents at the Kohl Center have not scored more than 60 points, and despite Thursday's loss, they're 124-2 when allowing fewer than 60 at home since coach Bo Ryan took over in 2001-02.

Wisconsin shot only 30.8 percent from the field but held the Gophers to 23.9 percent in a 52-45 home victory in the most recent meeting Feb. 28. It was the Badgers' their third straight win in the series.

Minnesota's only victory in 15 visits to Madison since 1994 came in overtime, 78-74 on Jan. 15, 2009.

AP NEWS
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