NJIT vs. Gophers

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:

LYNN-SANITY– New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Damon Lynn is not only the school’s all-time leading scorer. He’s the active Division I career leader with 1,906 points. Lynn is only 5-foot-11, but he’s the big man on NJIT’s campus. He led the Highlanders with 20 points and six three-pointers when they upset Michigan in 2014. The senior guard averages 23 points per game, which included 33 points on 8-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc in a loss at Purdue this year.

MURPHY RATIO– The Gophers needed to get Jordan Murphy back on track offensively. The sophomore captain was only averaging eight points in his previous three games before a 16-point, 14-rebound effort in Saturday’s 56-52 win against Vanderbilt in Sioux Falls, S.D. It took Murphy shooting 8-for-17 from the field to break a two-game slump scoring under double figures. It was the second time in eight games he had double-digit shot attempts. Giving Murphy post touches early and often Tuesday night might help him continue to be aggressive scoring the ball. They’ll need that in Big Ten play.

BENCH IMPACT– When Minnesota trailed by 12 points in the first half Saturday against Vanderbilt, Richard Pitino looked to his bench for a spark – and it delivered. Akeem Springs, Eric Curry and Bakary Konate helped the Gophers go on an 18-3 run to get back into the game. Konate is averaging five points, six rebounds and nearly two blocks in the last three games. Pitino was set on using a seven-man rotation to start the season. But Konate has played well enough to allow the Gophers to go eight players deep.

GAME INFO

Time: 7 p.m. CT, Tuesday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: Gophers by 17 points Series: First meeting. TV: BTN. Online/Live video: BTN2go.com Radio: 1500-AM.

PROJECTED STARTERS

MINNESOTA (7-1)

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G-Nate Mason 6-2 Jr. 12.1

G-Dupree McBrayer 6-5 So. 10.6

G-Amir Coffey 6-8 Fr. 13.9

F-Jordan Murphy 6-7 So. 10.9

C-Reggie Lynch 6-10 Jr. 8.1

Key reserves – Eric Curry, F/C, 6-9, Fr., 7.5 ppg; Akeem Springs, G, 6-4, Sr., 6.8 ppg; Ahmad Gilbert, F, 6-6, So., 3.0 ppg; Bakary Konate, C, 6-11, Jr., 2.9 ppg

Coach: Richard Pitino 59-51 (4 seasons)  

Notable: The Gophers, who are looking to match last season's win total with victory No. 8, have had six different players lead them in scoring this season. Amir Coffey (three times) and Nate Mason (twice) have done it multiple times. Dupree McBrayer, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch and Akeem Springs have been the leading scorer in a game once each. That’s what you call balance.

NJIT (5-4)

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G-Damon Lynn 5-11 Sr. 23.0

G-Rob Ukawuba 6-3 Sr. 10.3

F-Osa Izevbuwa 6-3 Sr. 5.7

F-Tim Coleman 6-5 Sr. 14.6

C-Abdul Lewis 6-9 Jr. 6.9

Key reserves – Chris Jenkins, G/F, 6-4, Jr., 5.3 ppg; Anthony Tarke, G/F, 6-6, Fr., 5.1 ppg; Shyquan Gibbs, G, 6-1, Fr., 2.2 ppg; Mohamed Bendary, F, 6-9, So., 1.7 ppg

Coach: Brian Kennedy 5-4 (1st season)  

Notable: The Highlanders are 1-2 all-time against Big Ten teams, including a 79-68 loss at Purdue on Nov. 26. They beat No. 17 Michigan 72-70 in Ann Arbor in 2014-15. Their first meeting with a Big Ten team came in a 74-47 loss at Penn State in 2008.

Fuller’s prediction (8-0 record)Gophers 82, NJIT 66. The Gophers opened the season with five straight games scoring 80 points or more, which hadn’t happened since the 1992-93 season. Minnesota’s scoring average went from 85.6 in the first five games to 60 points in the last three games. Look for Pitino’s offense to get going Tuesday night against an Atlantic Sun opponent that allowed teams such as Utah State and Louisiana-Lafayette (Minnesota’s season-opening opponent) to score a combined 177 points. Coffey’s confidence carries over from his late heroics making two clutch baskets in the Gophers’ comeback victory against Vanderbilt.