Gophers starting junior guard Payton Willis was a game-time decision for Monday’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against Clemson, but he is expected to play, according to the team.
Willis, who practiced Sunday, warmed up with his teammates before the game. He injured his right ankle in the second half of the 73-68 loss to DePaul last week. He still scored 16 points in 36 minutes.
"He was hobbling on that ankle," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said after the DePaul loss. "He's a tough kid. A really, really tough kid. Made some big plays. For us now, it's just getting him some rest and be ready to go on Monday."
The 6-foot-4 Vanderbilt transfer is averaging 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Gophers (3-4) in seven starts. Willis leads the team in three-point percentage (38.9) and threes made (21). He's tied for the Big Ten lead with threes made and threes per game (3.0).
“I’m doing all right,” Willis said Friday. “I just landed on somebody’s foot and rolled it a little bit.”
The Gophers shot 34 percent from the field (21 for 61), 24 percent from three (7 for 29) and 63 percent (19 for 30) from the foul line in loss to DePaul. Willis finished 6-for-17 from the field and 4-for-12 from three-point range. It was his fourth straight game without attempting a free throw.
"We for sure have to get to the free throw line more," Willis said Friday. "We have to convert when we get to the free throw line. That was a problem [Friday]. That's a focus getting to the free throw line every game."
All four losses this season have come to high-major opponents, but the Gophers had opportunities to win them down the stretch.
"We're right there," Willis said. "We just have to make winning plays. Get more loose balls, finish defensive plays for rebounds and stop those turnovers at the end that lead to layups."