Butler takes on Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games from Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Gophers lose a tough one to SoonersMinnesota is off to a 1-1 start, which includes an easy 85-50 win over Cleveland State last Tuesday. In Game 2, the Golden Gophers got off to a strong start against Oklahoma from Sioux Falls, taking a 32-26 lead at the half. But they were outscored, 45-30 in the second half, to fall 71-62 to the Sooners. Marcus Carr led the Gophers with 16 points and 10 boards, while Payton Willis and Daniel Oturu added 15 points apiece. The Sooners shot just 40% from the field but they outrebounded Minnesota, 39-31. The Gophers hurt themselves by making just 4-of-12 from the line (33.3%) and 8-of-32 from beyond the arc (25%).
Minnesota returns two starters from a 22-14 team that finished 9-11 (7th) in the Big Ten. Richard Pitino's squad made the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second round. He has to replace three key starters in Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy and Dupre McBrayer. The Gophers were hoping that center Eric Curry (4.1ppg, 3.1rpg) would be in the mix, but he's out for the season with a knee injury. They brought in Drexel grad transfer Alihan Demir (14.8ppg, 6.4rpg last season), who had just four points and three rebounds against Oklahoma. Oturu is a 6-10, 225-pounder center who could really explode this season after averaging 10.8 points and 7 rpg last year. He's averaging 15.5ppg and 9.5rpg this season.
Big test for ButlerButler won their first two games over IUPUI at home (80-47) and New Orleans at home (79-53). Butler's top player, Kamar Baldwin, was held to just four points in 14 minutes. Baldwin (oblique) was injured in their opener against IUPUI, when he scored just three points in five minutes. The 6-1 senior averaged 17.0 points on 44.7% shooting last season.
Fortunately, Butler has good depth. They were missing about half of their roster in the first game, but still won by 33. Jordan Tucker filled in for Baldwin against New Orleans and had 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Privateers, 38-21 and shot 9-of-19 from beyond the arc. Butler was also missing 7-1 center Derrik Smits (knee), a transfer from Valparaiso, who averaged 12.2 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. He's listed as questionable for this game. Redshirt senior Bryce Nze (10.3ppg, 8.5rpg in 2017-18) had a huge game against New Orleans, with 18 points and 10 boards. The 6-7 redshirt junior is a transfer from Milwaukee.
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