Gophers men’s hoops vs. DePaul

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:

Battle of backcourt transfers – Where would the Gophers be without their two transfers in the backcourt? Marcus Carr and Payton Willis are averaging 26.8 points combined, but they also bring other separate strengths. Despite being 6-foot-2, Carr is second on the team in rebounding (6.3) and leads in assists (6.7). The Toronto native is one of two players in Division I basketball averaging at least six rebounds and six assists per game (other is Marshall’s Taevion Kinsey). Willis gave the Gophers another long-range marksmen this year tied for the team lead with 17 three-pointers while shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc. Where would the Blue Demons be without their transfers in the backcourt as well? Charlie Moore left California and Kansas to finally find a spot he can thrive at DePaul, averaging 16.6 points and 5.9 assists per game. Former Illinois guard Jalen Coleman-Lands is averaging 9.1 points, but he had his best game with the program Tuesday with 21 points in a comeback win vs. Central Michigan.

Gabe’s got his groove back – Richard Pitino was glad to see sophomore guard Gabe Kalscheur break out of a slump. Kalscheur, the team’s top three-point shooter last season, didn’t reach double figures until his fourth game, but he’s been there ever since. The former DeLaSalle standout is averaging 15.3 points in his last three games on 10-for-23 shooting from three-point range. This resembles the same player that Kalscheur had 24 points in the NCAA tournament first round win vs. Louisville. Kalscheur opened this season shooting 32 percent (10-for-31) from three through four games. It took time to adjust to new backcourt mates Carr and Willis. Kalscheur appeared to get more comfortable in the 73-69 loss at Utah on Nov. 15. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including three three-pointers. That was Kalscheur’s first double-figure scoring game this season. Two more important firsts for Kalscheur this year happened with his 18-point performance in last weekend’s win vs. North Dakota. He had his first career dunk and first attempted free throws of the season. 

Turnover factor – The Gophers are averaging 14.0 turnovers per game this season, which ranks third most in the Big Ten behind Michigan (14.7) and Illinois (16.7). DePaul is a team that feasts on the mistakes of their opponents (16.4 turnovers per game), but it also commits turnovers (15.3 per game) at a high rate as well. The Blue Demons forced 19 turnovers in a 93-78 win at Iowa, but they also gave up the ball 21 times. In the second road victory this season, DePaul committed and forced 16 turnovers in a 72-67 win at Boston College. They also erased an 18-point halftime deficit earlier this week to beat Central Michigan forcing the Chippewas into sloppy play in the second half. 

GAME INFO

Time: 2 p.m. CT, Friday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: Minnesota 3.5-point favorite. Series: DePaul leads the series 8-9, but Minnesota won last meeting 86-85 in Old Spice Classic in Orlando on Nov. 24, 2011. TV: FS1. Online/Live video: Fox Sports App. Radio: 103.5.

PROJECTED STARTERS

MINNESOTA GOPHERS (3-3)

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG 

G – Marcus Carr 6-2 190 So. 14.5

G – Payton Willis 6-5 200 Jr. 12.3

G – Gabe Kalscheur 6-4 200 So. 11.8

F – Alihan Demir 6-9 235 Sr. 6.7

C – Daniel Oturu 6-10 245 So. 16.7

Key reserves– Jarvis Omersa, F, 6-7, So., 3.5 ppg; Tre’ Williams, G, 6-5, Fr., 3.8 ppg; Isaiah Ihnen, F, 6-9, Fr., 2.0 ppg; Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Sr., 1.8 ppg.

Coach: Richard Pitino 133-109 (8th season overall)  

Notable: Redshirt junior big man Eric Curry had successful surgery last month on a torn ACL in his right knee suffered during practice Oct. 7. The 6-9 redshirt junior hasn’t played a full season since his freshman year in 2016-17 after tearing ligaments in his left knee in 2017 and foot surgery last season … Freshman forward Isaiah Ihnen scored three points in nine minutes during his season debut vs. Utah on Nov. 15. The 6-foot-9 Ihnen, a four-star recruit from Germany, missed the first three games with a right wrist injury.

DEPAUL BLUE DEMONS (7-0) 

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G – Charlie Moore 5-11 180 Jr. 16.6

G – Jalen Coleman-Lands 6-4 185 Sr. 9.1

F – Romeo Weems 6-7 210 Fr. 9.1

F – Paul Reed 6-9 220 Jr. 15.9

F – Jaylen Butz 6-9 224 Jr. 11.1

Key reserves– Markese Jacobs, G, 5-11, Fr., 6.4 ppg; Devin Gage, G, 6-2, Jr., 6.5 ppg; Darious Hall, F, 6-7, So., 4.7 ppg; Nick Ongenda, C, 6-11, Fr., 2.5 ppg.

Coach: Dave Leitao 195-211 (14th season)  

Notable: Junior forward Paul Reed has the look of an NBA-caliber stretch forward. At 6-9 and 220 pounds, he has the ability to shoot from long distance, put the ball on the floor, block shots and dominate the glass. Reed was tough for Iowa to handle in a 93-78 win in Iowa City this season. He had 25 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocks in that victory. Reed is projected as a second round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by nbadraft.net ... The Blue Demons lead the Big East in field goal percentage (50.5), field goal percentage defense (35.8), rebounding margin (plus-7.9) and block (5.86). 

Fuller’s prediction (4-2 with picks): Gophers 77, DePaul 74. 

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