With the Gophers basketball team struggling offensively during a two-game slide in the Big Ten, coach Richard Pitino believes it's time to make a change to his starting lineup.
In Saturday's 52-50 loss at Penn State, Minnesota scored only 17 points in the second half on 28 percent shooting from the field. The Gophers also labored to score in a 65-47 loss at Michigan State, with 17 points in the first half on 27 percent shooting.
To revive the offense, Pitino said on his radio show Monday that senior captain Akeem Springs would replace sophomore Dupree McBrayer in the starting backcourt. The Gophers (15-4, 3-3) are expected to showcase that lineup Saturday against No. 17 Wisconsin at Williams Arena.
"I think I'm going to give Akeem a look and bring Dupree off the bench," Pitino said on KSTP AM-1500. "I think that will help from a rotation standpoint. Akeem can obviously hit some jump shots a little better. See how that looks."
McBrayer, who averages 11.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 30.7 minutes, has started all 19 games. Springs, who averages 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 20.8 minutes, has started one.
Pitino is looking to boost the Gophers' outside shooting with the move. They rank 12th in field-goal percentage (40.9) and three-point field-goal percentage (31.0) in Big Ten play.
"It's a concern," he said. "Their confidence level right now is not very high from an offensive standpoint. We can do much better than we're doing."
McBrayer is the most improved player on the team offensively from last season. He's shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. But the New York native's strength is getting to the basket, which opposing teams are making difficult.
One of the knocks on Springs is he relies too much on his jump shot. He only shoots 38.3 percent from two-point range, but Springs is first on the Gophers in three-point field goals (38) and second in three-point percentage (39.2).
Springs had only eight points combined on 3-for-14 shooting from the field (2-for-9 from beyond the arc) in the losses to Penn State and Michigan State. But he had 18 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting in a 78-68 victory against Ohio State on Jan 8.
McBrayer scored 11 points in the first half of the loss at Michigan State. But he's averaging 8.0 points on 34.2 percent (13-for-38) shooting in his past four games.
"It's not a demotion [for] Dupree," Pitino said. "That's not what it is. But I'll give that a look. See how it looks this week."