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Smith calls on Sampson, Hollins to step up

With No. 6 Michigan State in town -- and a three-game losing streak threatening to sink the season -- Gophers coach Tubby Smith is asking veterans Ralph Sampson III and Andre Hollins to take more of a leadership role.
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With No. 6 Michigan State in town -- and a three-game losing streak threatening to sink the season -- Gophers coach Tubby Smith is asking veterans Ralph Sampson III and Andre Hollins to take more of a leadership role.

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Reusse: Tubby Smith using Sampson as scapegoat

Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse says frustrated Gophers coach Tubby Smith wants Ralph Sampson III to go strong to the basket and not settle for jumpers -- even though that's never been his game.

Sampson and Hollins expected to start Saturday against St. Peter's

Both players are recovering from minor ankle injuries, but Ralph Sampson III and Andre Hollins are expected to start Saturday when the Gophers host St. Peter's. Sampson returned to action against Appalachian State, but Hollins left the game early and didn't return.

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The Gophers could be without starting big man Ralph Sampson III against Northwestern in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. Sampson injured his knee two days ago and hasn't practice since.

Sampson's ankle feeling better

It's still unclear if Ralph Sampson III will play Tuesday night when the Gophers host Appalachian State, but he was moving around much better during Monday's practice. The 6-foot-11 senior center has missed the last two games.

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Ralph Sampson III is back in the starting lineup tonight as the Gophers host Appalachian State in non-conference play at Williams Arena. Sampson missed the previous two games because of a turned ankle. Andre Hollins is also starting despite turning an ankle in Saturday's win over USC.

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Gophers' point guard Andre Hollins is questionable for Tuesday's game against Central Michigan. The freshman missed Saturday's win over St. Peter's because of a turned ankle. Tubby Smith says Hollins is still dealing with soreness.

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Madison Square Garden plays host the Gophers and Stanford tonight in the NIT championship game. Minnesota defeated Washington in the semifinals thanks to a big game from freshman Andre Hollins. Tubby Smith says he wants Hollins to have the ball in clutch situations "because he’s making very good decisions with it.”

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Gophers big man Mo Walker is back practicing with the team and is "almost fully engaged now", according to head coach Tubby Smith. There still isn't a timetable for Walker to return to game-action. Freshman point guard Andre Hollins' ankle is still tender and he's questionable for Thursday's game against NDSU.