Preview: The Gophers (8-1) beat their first four midmajor opponents by double digits at home this season but received a scare in a 74-68 victory Tuesday against New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Gophers scheduled four Sun Belt Conference teams this year, already beating Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-Arlington. … The Eagles (4-4), who return five starters, were predicted to finish fourth in the Sun Belt. They nearly upset North Carolina State in an 81-79 season-opening loss on Nov. 11.
Players to watch: Gophers senior guard Akeem Springs has scored in double figures five times this year off the bench, averaging 8.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19.8 minutes. … Georgia Southern sophomore guard Ike Smith leads the Sun Belt in scoring with 21.4 points per game, which includes six 20-point performances.
Numbers: The Gophers are 8-1 all-time against Sun Belt opponents. Their only loss came against Arkansas-Little Rock 67-66 at home in 2006-07.