The Gophers played impressively on Monday, going head-to-head with Syracuse and battling to make what could have been a blowout instead a tough, close game.
Now, the challenge will be to maintain the intensity after something of a heartbreaking loss (even if it was a moral victory).
They will need to keep the intensity against an Arkansas team that likes to play similarly to the Gophers: with an uptempo pace and a heavy reliance on the defensive press.
The best news for the Gophers is that Mo Walker returns today after sitting for six games, suspended for violating university policy. His return will bring a much-needed extra body in the paint and ease some of the pressure from Elliott Eliason, the only real rim protector (and thus, foul liability) with Walker out.
Some other notes on today's game:
- Normal starters Anthlon Bell and Michael Qualls came off the bench on Monday after showing up late to a team meeting, coach Mike Anderson said. Bell still finished with 16 points and Qualls, with 21. The pair is expected to start again on Tuesday.
- Though Arkansas likes to run, the Razorbacks' pace was slowed a little on Monday. "I feel like the lack of movement on the basketball," Qualls said. "Coach doesn't like one player to have the ball in his hand, constant pounding, because you know we get good ball movement, and we have players catching it in rhythm and they can knock the shot down. So yeah, we were very stagnant."
- Arkansas -- which turns opponents over on 26.2 percent of their possessions, sixth best in the nation -- forced California into 18 turnovers on a day in which the Gophers had their worst ballhandling performance of the season. Minnesota was able to keep the score with Syracuse close in spite of their bevy of turnovers, but the Gophers shouldn't tempt fate by playing with such sloppiness twice.
- Kenpom.com is predicting an 83-76 Gophers win.