Minnesota's Al Nolen will play Thursday

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

Smith said Wednesday after practice that Nolen will play Thursday when Minnesota (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) takes on South Dakota State.

Nolen has missed the past 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.