Gophers expecting Nolen back Thursday

Gophers expecting Nolen back Thursday

Published Dec. 22, 2010 12:00 a.m. ET

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith expects to have point guard Al Nolen back for the 17th-ranked Gophers' next game.

Smith said Wednesday after practice that Nolen will play Thursday against South Dakota State.

Nolen has missed the last five games because of a stress fracture in his foot. The senior is one of Minnesota's best defenders and a steady presence at the top of the key.

The Gophers start Big Ten play next week at Wisconsin.