Gophers vs. Southern Illinois: 7 p.m. Radio: 1500 AM, TV: BTN Plus (webcast)
Preview: The Gophers (5-0) beat the two opponents perceived to be the biggest nonconference challenges for them at home this year in St. John’s and Arkansas. But they can’t afford to slip up against midmajors, and we were reminded this week that anything can happen (see: No. 3 Indiana losing to Fort Wayne). Minnesota’s margin of victory against Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas-Arlington and Mount St. Mary’s was 17.7 points to open the season. Southern Illinois (3-2) has averaged 86.3 points in three consecutive victories since losing to Arkansas on Nov. 14.
Players to watch: Amir Coffey is averaging 24.5 points while shooting 61.5 percent from the field in his past two games, which includes the 30-point performance a week ago against St. John’s. Reggie Lynch had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half against Arkansas before being limited because of an ankle injury. Senior point guard Mike Rodriguez leads the Salukis in scoring (14.6) and assists (4.6). Junior forward Thik Bol had a career-high six blocks in a 73-63 victory Monday against Mount St. Mary’s.
Numbers: The Gophers are playing the last of a six-game homestand at Williams Arena that was the longest to open the season since 1999-2000.