Gophers-Southern Mississippi NIT game preview

  • Updated: March 24, 2014 - 11:56 PM

8 p.m. vs. Southern Miss • Williams Arena ESPN, 1500-AM

Gophers at a glance: The top-seeded Gophers (22-13) outlasted High Point and St. Mary’s in the NIT’s first and second rounds and one more victory will send them to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York. As a No. 1 seed, the Gophers have been able to play all their NIT games at Williams Arena. Against the Gaels on Sunday, Minnesota fell behind 14-0 but rallied for a 63-55 victory. Forward Joey King led with 18 points, and center Elliott Eliason had seven blocks. King has collected 32 points over the past two games. Senior guard Malik Smith did not play — he had gone 2-for-31 from the field in his previous nine games.

Southern Miss at a glance: The Golden Eagles (29-6) are by far the most talented team Minnesota will have played in the NIT to this point, with a top-70 offense and defense. Southern Miss is coming off a 71-63 victory at Missouri in which the Golden Eagles held the Tigers to 39.5 percent shooting. Former Gophers guard Chip Armelin plays for Southern Miss and is averaging 4.7 points and 1.9 rebounds a game. The junior transferred after the 2011-12 season. The Golden Eagles rank ninth in the nation at forcing turnovers and tenth in offensive rebounding, according to kenpom.com. Both ball handling and containing teams on the offensive glass have been weaknesses for the Gophers all season. Southern Miss has four players that average between 9.7 and 11.5 points a game, with swingman Michael Craig leading the bunch and also averaging 7.6 rebounds per game.

AMELIA RAYNO

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