Gophers heads to Mississippi state for Sunday morning


Men’s basketball | 04/12/2021 08:25:00

TV: ESPNU (Roy Philpott – Play-by-Play, Mark Wise – Analyst)
Tip time: 1:01 p.m. CT
Radio: Learfield IMG College / KTLK (AM-1130), FM 103.5
Mike Grimm (game by game); Spencer Tollackson (analyst)
Sirius: XM 389

Series: First meeting between the two schools
Minnesota vs. SEC: 18-14

• The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team are on their way to the second straight game as they travel to Mississippi State on Sunday at 1 pm. This is the very first meeting between the two institutions. Both programs have six wins at the start of the season.
• Minnesota just picked up a road victory over Pittsburgh in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge. The victory meant some firsts: It was Minnesota’s first real road victory since February 23, 2020 (at Northwestern, 83-57). It was also the first real non-conference road victory since November 13, 2017 in Providence. Minnesota’s last off-conference road victory against a Power Five team also came in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge when the Gophers defeated Wake Forest on December 2, 2014. All other events were at home, in tournaments or on neutral sites. It was also just the fourth real non-conference road win in the past eight seasons (Richmond – 2013, Wake Forest – 2014, Providence – 2017).
• Minnesota are just one of 14 teams in the country still undefeated and only one of three teams remaining in the Big Ten. The Gophers held a 6-0 record in the 2020-21 season and the last time Minnesota opened a 7-0 season was in the 2017-18 campaign when the Gophers defeated both UMass and Alabama at the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, NY
• Minnesota leads the country in three-point defense. The Gophers have allowed just 118 attempts and 25 three-way opponents in six games and just 21.2 percent. Minnesota currently ranks 18th nationally in defensive rebounds. The Golden Gophers have 181 defensive rebounds for an average of 30.2 per game. In six games this year, five Gophers have over 20 defensive rebounds: Battle of Jamison (37), Eric curry (32), Payton Willis (26), Sean sutherlin (23) and Eylijah Stephens at 22 years. Additionally, Minnesota ranks 10th nationally for the fewest fouls (and first in the Big Ten) with 80. The Gophers also rank second in the Big Ten for scoring defense and 30th nationally with a average of 58.5 points allowed.
• Battle of Jamison is ranked sixth in the Big Ten overall rating. He averages 17.5 points per game, while Payton Willis ranks 10th in the league with 16.3. Willis and Battle are fourth and sixth in the Big Ten in three-point percentage (0.429 and 0.313) and fifth and sixth in three points per game at 2.5 and 2.6. Willis and Eylijah Stephens the two averaged 1.8 steals per game, which equates to second place in the league. With the Gophers playing on a short bench, Minnesota also has three of its five starters in the top five for minutes played in the Big Ten. Battle leads the league with an average of 38.0 minutes played.

• Mississippi State enter Minnesota with a 6-1 overall record. The Bulldogs played Thursday night and defeated Lamar 75-60 in Starkville. Michigan state transfer Rocket Watts contributed 15 points to Lamar’s victory. The Bulldogs also had wins over North Alabama, Montana, Detroit Mercy, Morehead State and an overtime victory over Richmond. Their only loss came against Louisville, 72-58.
• Mississippi State clinched second place at NIT 2021 and was 18-15 overall and 8-10 in the SEC.
• Head Coach Ben Howland is in his seventh year as head of Mississippi State. He holds an academic record of 105-83 and has been a head coach for the past 26 seasons (506-289).
• The Bulldogs have four individuals averaging over 10 points per game. All-SEC preseason winner Iverson Molinar leads the team with 16.0 points per game, followed by Tolu Smith (15.3), Shakeel Moore (11.3) and Garrison Brooks (10.7). Brooks is a North Carolina transfer and also an All-SEC preseason pick, while Moore was transferred to Mississippi State from North Carolina State.

• Minnesota is 18-14 all-time against current SEC members. This will be the Gophers’ first meeting against Mississippi State in the history of the program.
• The last time a Minnesota team faced an SEC and road team was December 9, 2017. The Golden Gophers fell 95-79 to Arkansas. Minnesota, ranked 14th at the time, was led by Jordan Murphy, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
• Minnesota’s last victory over an SEC school was in the same season, when the Gophers defeated Alabama in a neutral win Nov 25, 2017, 89-84.

• A Luc Loewe fought off the rebound on an Elyijah Stephens miss with 2.4 seconds left to take Minnesota to a 54-53 victory over Pittsburgh in a Big Ten / ACC Challenge on Tuesday night.
• It was the Gophers’ first Power Five team they faced this year.
• Battle of Jamison led Minnesota with 16 points and seven rebounds. Willis added 15 points and the only points Loewe scored came from his winning delay. The Gophers were passed 40-33, but made up for the shortfall with 7 of 19 shots from beyond the arc.

• Minnesota will open the Big Ten on Wednesday, December 8 when Michigan State comes to town. Game time is set for 8 p.m. and televised on BTN. Mike Grimm and Spencer Tollackson can also provide the call on KFAN 100.3 FM.


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