Minnesota (6-10; 0-4 in the Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (9-8;1-3)
at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln
Jan. 12, 8:00 p.m. CT
Spread: Minnesota +7.5
Richard Pitino isn't looking for a magic trick to change Minnesota's fortunes, here.
Previewing both teams here.
A conversation with freshman Dupree McBrayer, here.
A look at Jordan Murphy's transition to small forward, here.
Three other storylines for tonight...
Whitewashed. Six-7 junior Andrew White has shown he can be a tough matchup and is capable of exploding all year, and Minnesota need not be reminded after watching him do so on tape in Nebraska's last game, a 90-56 rout at Rutgers. He had 28 points and nine rebounds in that game on 11-of-14 shooting and seems to be heating up. While White is hitting a superb 44.3 percent from three-point range on the year, he's hit 15 of 29 in league play, good for 51.7 percent and sixth best nationally. That combined with a knack for pulling down defensive boards and a top-five efficiency rating in Big Ten play, will give the Gophers plenty of work.
The 3 hole/ Murphy. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said on Monday that the only thing he wasn't thrilled about regarding his lineup and rotation is that freshman Jordan Murphy is playing small forward too much. Of course, that situation has been essentially created by freshman Ahmad Gilbert's slow growth and the Charles Buggs situation, which isn't clear but involves him sitting on the bench a lot. Without anyone else to fill major minutes at that position, much of the load has fallen on Murphy's shoulders and it's probably harming the entire team. But Pitino said he's been happy with Gilbert's recent progress and might be willing to start throwing more minutes his way. As for Buggs, Pitino said on his weekly radio show on 1500-a.m. last night "With Charles it just needs to be coming in and working hard every single day more than anything."
Husker Territory. A lot of Gophers fans seem to still think of Nebraska as one of the perennial "beatable" teams on the schedule, which is why I'm taking this opportunity to remind everyone that the Huskers have won in their building against Minnesota in each of the last three years. This new arena, Pinnacle Bank, has some loudness to it, too.
The number: 15-5-3
Senior Shavon Shields is averaging 15 points, 5.2 rebounds and three assists a game, and if he keeps that pace, that would be the first time a Nebraska player put up 15, 5 and 3 since 2000-01 when Cookie Belcher did so.
My prediction: Minnesota pulls itself together after the ugliest loss of the year and just about everything goes right in the Gophers first Big Ten victory.
Minnesota 64, Nebraska 60