When it comes to All-Big Ten freshmen team honors this season, Daniel Oturu makes a strong case to be mentioned among the best in the conference in his first college season.
The Gophers’ 6-foot-10 center picked up his second Big Ten freshman of the week honor Monday after averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds in two games last week against Michigan and Rutgers.
Oturu had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting and 6-for-7 free throws and eight rebounds in Sunday’s 68-64 loss at Rutgers. The former Cretin-Derham Hall star also put together 18 points and 12 rebounds in a 69-60 loss to No. 7 Michigan on Thursday.
“I thought he was terrific,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “I thought he did a lot of great things at the basket. He hit his free throws. For a big guy to make some crucial free throws was huge. He was competitive and physical.”
Oturu had his fourth dunk of the game plus the foul with under a minute left to pull the Gophers within a point.
“Rutgers was tough and physical,” Oturu said. “I just had to finish the play. Hopefully, we’ll get another opportunity to (win on the road).”
Playing alongside senior Jordan Murphy, Oturu has developed into arguably the team’s most reliable inside scoring presence. He’s averaging 11.4 points and leading Big Ten freshmen with 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 56.4 percent shooting from the field.
The Gophers (17-11, 7-10) were led by their freshmen in the Rutgers loss with Gabe Kalscheur also scoring a team-high 21 points on 6-for-6 shooting from three-point range.
“I feel like Daniel feeds off me and I feed off him,” said Kalscheur, who had 15 points on five three-pointers in the first half Sunday. “As a group collectively, we just have to do a better job of feeding off each other.”