Minnesota-Michigan Preview

The Associated Press

Michigan remains in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title after storming back to beat one of the conference's worst teams at the buzzer.

The Wolverines also found themselves in a close one against Minnesota last month.

Looking to inch closer to a regular-season title, No. 16 Michigan goes for a sixth consecutive win over the visiting Golden Gophers on Saturday.

The Wolverines (20-7, 12-3) moved one game ahead of Michigan State after escaping with a 77-76 overtime win at Purdue on Wednesday. Glenn Robinson finished with 17 points after his mid-range bank shot rolled in as time expired.

"It's a great win for us. My teammates knew how much this game meant to me with my dad playing here and being from Indiana," said Robinson, who shot 7 of 11 and added eight rebounds. "We've been through a lot of situations throughout the year. One thing that we learned is never give up on a game. I think we've seen that all the way back to last year in the tournament, and we do a great job of just competing and staying together."

Michigan trailed by as many as 19 midway through the first half and 13 at the break before stepping on the gas.

"This is the way it's going to be. This is it," coach John Beilein said. "We just have to embrace it and we're going to have to work hard for everything. We were very fortunate."

The Wolverines are now 15-1 when Robinson reaches his scoring average of 13.0 points. He managed six on 2-of-5 shooting before leaving with a leg injury early in the second half of a 63-60 win at Minnesota on Jan. 2 in Michigan's Big Ten opener. The Golden Gophers had a chance to send it to overtime but Deandre Mathieu's 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

The Wolverines have won five straight over the Gophers and nine of 10 meetings. The last five, however, have come by an average of just 5.4 points.

Minnesota (18-11, 7-9) scored a combined 95 points in back-to-back losses to Illinois and No. 22 Ohio State before matching that mark in Tuesday's 95-89 win over No. 20 Iowa. Senior Austin Hollins had a career-high 27 points as the Gophers shot 61.2 percent and 11 of 19 from 3-point range, both season bests.

Minnesota had dropped six of its previous eight games.

"Guys didn't let that affect them," Hollins said. "They were really motivated to work and get better and come out here and get this win."

Mathieu also came up big with 19 points and Andre Hollins added 14. Freshman Charles Buggs, averaging 2.6 points in seven games, scored a season-high 13.

"We believe in what we're doing," coach Richard Pitino said. "We've had some games that haven't been great. We've had some games that have been great. Tonight was a great one."

The Gophers would love to see a repeat performance from Austin Hollins, who had posted a combined 24 points and 11 turnovers in the previous four games.

"He's a special kid. A lot of young college kids would crawl into a shell when they're not playing well," Pitino said. "He believes in hard work, he believes that he's going to come around, and he showed that."

Hollins shot a season-worst 1 of 9 and finished with two points against the Wolverines last month.

The Gophers are 3-5 against ranked teams this season, though each of those wins came at home. Minnesota has dropped seven straight road meetings against Top 25 foes by an average of 14.7 points.

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