Thu, 27 Jan 2022

Minnesota looks to stay unbeaten vs. Pitt

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2021, 10:43 GMT+10

Picked to finish last in the Big Ten, Minnesota is off to a 5-0 start to the season.

The Golden Gophers have not played any notable opponents so far, but that will change Tuesday night when they visit Pitt as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

"I would expect with Pitt being in the ACC, that will get the guys' attention," coach Ben Johnson said. "So, they will be ready to roll."

Minnesota has held its last two opponents to less than 50 points. Purdue Fort Wayne only got to 49 points in a 29-point loss, while Jacksonville was limited to 44 points in an 11-point Gophers win.

Johnson acknowledged that his team will be undersized in a few spots against the Panthers, but he still expects a strong effort against the Gophers' first Power Five opponent of the season.

"I just want to be able to compete, play hard and have that same mentality we had these first five games," Johnson said. "If we do that, it's just about trying to find a way to get another win."

Pitt (2-4) has suffered all four of its defeats by double figures, including an 87-77 loss to UMBC over the weekend. The Panthers actually set a season high in points -- their previous best was 63 -- as they made 11 3-pointers, but it simply wasn't enough.

"I thought we did some good things," Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. "For us to score 77 points, for us to make 11 threes. I thought that was good for us. So hopefully we can carry over and have some confidence."

The Panthers, whose roster has been ravaged by departures, injuries and suspensions, are led by John Hugley (14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Femi Odukale (13.2 points, 3.5 assists). Among Pitt's issues at the moment: free-throw shooting (60.4 percent) and 3-point shooting (27.9).

As for the Gophers, Jamison Battle leads the way at 17.8 points, followed by a pair of quality 3-point shooters in Payton Willis (16.6) and E.J. Stephens (11.4). Willis led Minnesota with 17 points in the win over Jacksonville.

--Field Level Media

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