LAHAINA, HAWAII – Gophers center Mo Walker will return for Tuesday’s game against Arkansas after being suspended for six contests for violating university policy.
It will be a welcome reinforcement for Minnesota, which already was dealing with a thin frontcourt before the season began. On Monday, the deficit was obvious, with the Gophers having only one center available to face Syracuse’s multitude of physical options during the 75-67 loss to the No. 9 Orange.
Gophers center Elliott Eliason played 30 minutes, and when he sat in stretches with foul trouble, the team suffered as a whole, unable to protect the rim.
“We just had to make it work,” coach Richard Pitino said. “When Mo gets back, that’s going to be a big help for us.”
Cut but not stopped
Syracuse big man C.J. Fair sustained a sizable cut under his right eye in a scary play that was never even ruled a foul. The 6-8 senior went up for a slam over a few Gophers defenders and came down with a bloodied cheek after Minnesota guard Austin Hollins appeared to catch him with an elbow.
After a trainer examined Fair — who was taken to a hospital to receive stitches after the game — a bandage was applied to the wound and the forward returned to the game. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I cut down a lane and I went up for the dunk and I felt like I hit my face,” Fair said. “Then as I came down, I [saw] blood on my hand and from there, I knew it was something bad.”
2015 field announced
The Maui Invitational announced the official field for 2015, a group that includes four of the top 10 winningest programs in Division I history: Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA and Indiana. The eight-team field also includes UNLV, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Chaminade, the Division II host.
“The 2015 tournament promises to be very special,” tournament chairman Dave Odom said.