Gophers at Florida State
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Reggie Lynch’s status – The Gophers’ starting center was able to play effectively in the first half of last week’s Arkansas victory after injuring his ankle. But Lynch missed the following game against Southern Illinois and was limited to non-contact in practice. Richard Pitino called Lynch’s status for Monday’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge a game-time decision. The 6-foot-10 junior’s presence would be a big help against Florida State’s frontcourt that stands 6-10 and 7-1. Freshman Eric Curry, who had eight points and 11 rebounds Friday, could get his second consecutive start.
Talented freshmen clash – For the first time this season, Minnesota’s Amir Coffey will face a freshman even more highly rated than he was coming out of high school. Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac was the fifth-ranked player in the 2016 class by Scout.com, which is one of the highest ranked in Seminoles history. Coffey, a former Minnesota Mr. Basketball, was a consensus top-40 prospect. Both Coffey and Isaac have scored in double figures in every game so far this year. Coffey’s season-high is 30 points in a win against St. John’s. Isaac’s is 20 points in a win against Iona. But Isaac, a versatile 6-10 forward, is already projected as an NBA lottery pick in 2017.
Hostile environment – How will the Gophers react to their first road test of the season? Tucker Center isn’t exactly Cameron Indoor Stadium. But Seminoles fans won’t be very welcoming once Minnesota players take the court at Florida State on Monday night in Tallahassee. In four of the first six games this season, the Gophers trailed late in the first half, including going into halftime down six against Texas-Arlington. They used big runs to come from behind and take control for good. But it helped having the home crowd to cheer them on. Five newcomers will see what it’s like to play away from Williams Arena for the first time this year. How they respond could be the determining factor.
Time: 6 p.m. CT, Monday. Where: Tucker Center. Line: Florida State by 9 points Series: Leads 6-4; Minnesota won last meeting, 67-64 OT, in NIT Postseason semifinals in 2014. TV: ESPNU. Online/Live video: Same. Radio: 1500-AM.
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Nate Mason 6-2 Jr. 13.0
G-Dupree McBrayer 6-5 So. 12.2
G-Amir Coffey 6-8 Fr. 15.8
F-Jordan Murphy 6-7 So. 11.0
C-Eric Curry 6-9 Fr. 8.2
Key reserves – Reggie Lynch, C, 6-10, Jr., 9.2 ppg; Akeem Springs, G, 6-4, Sr., 7.6 ppg; Ahmad Gilbert, F, 6-6, So., 2.3 ppg; Bakary Konate, C, 6-11, Jr., 1.6 ppg
Coach: Richard Pitino 57-51 (4 seasons)
Notable: The Gophers, who received one top 25 vote in the latest Associated Press rankings, will play their first road game of the season after a six-game home stand. They will be vying for the program’s first 7-0 start since the 2008-09 season. Minnesota has won three straight games against Florida State, which includes twice under Pitino during the 2013-14 season. The last victory in Tallahassee was 77-68 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in 2012.
Florida State (5-1)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Terrance Mann 6-6 So. 8.3
G-Xavier Rathan-Mayes 6-4 Jr. 9.8
F-Dwayne Bacon 6-7 So. 18.2
F-Jonathan Isaac 6-10 Fr. 15.3
C-Michael Ojo 7-1 Sr. 5.3
Key reserves – Trent Forest, G, 6-3, Fr., 8.2 ppg; CJ Walker, G, 6-1, Fr., 7.3 ppg; Phil Cofer, F, 6-8, Jr., 5.6 ppg; Christ Koumadje, C, 7-4, So., 5.5 ppg; Brian Angola Rodas, G, 6-6, Jr., 4.2 ppg; Jarquez Smith, F, 6-9, Sr., 4.0 ppg
Coach: Leonard Hamilton 483-398 (29 seasons)
Notable: The Seminoles were dropped from the national rankings (No. 25) after losing to Temple 89-86 in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off. They blew an 18-point second-half lead after being outscored 44-26 in the span of 13 1/2 minutes. Isaac scored 19 points against the Owls, but he was scoreless in the last 9:42. Florida State’s last victory against Minnesota was 75-61 in Tallahassee in 2007.
Fuller’s prediction (6-0 record): Florida State 81, Gophers 73. All good things must come to an end. The undefeated start was a good way to show fans and national observers that this is a different Minnesota team this season. This could possibly be the only loss in nonconference, which would make the Gophers’ record 12-1 heading into Big Ten play. That’s not bad at all coming off an eight-win season. So no need to jump off the bandwagon after Monday. Reggie Lynch might not be able to make a huge impact with a bad ankle. Pitino’s freshmen get a rude awakening in their first road game. But it’ll be a learning experience.