With the Gophers basketball team struggling offensively during a two-game slide in the Big Ten, Richard Pitino believes it's time to make a change to his starting lineup.
In Saturday's 52-50 loss at Penn State, Minnesota scored just 17 points in the second half on 28 percent shooting from the field. The Gophers also struggled offensively in a 65-47 loss at Michigan State with 17 points in the first half.
There's something wrong with the offense right now, so Pitino said Monday on his radio show that he will replace sophomore Dupee McBrayer with senior Akeem Springs in the starting backcourt. The Gophers (15-4, 3-3) play next on Saturday against Wisconsin at Williams Arena.
McBrayer has started all 19 games this season. Springs had one start.
"I think I’m going to give Akeem a look and bring Dupree off the bench," Pitino said on KSTP-1500 AM. "I think that will help from a rotation standpoint. Akeem can obviously hit some jump shots a little better. See how that looks."
McBrayer, a 6-foot-5 guard, is averaging 11.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals a game this season. He’s shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range in 30.7 minutes.
Springs, a 6-4 captain, is averaging 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 20.8 minutes. Per 40 minutes, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin graduate transfer ranks second on the team in scoring (16.5) behind leading scorer Nate Mason (16.6).
One of the knocks on Springs is he actually shoots better from three-point range (39.2 percent) than two-point range (36.1). But he leads the team with 38 three-point field goals this season.
Springs had just eight points combined on 3-for-14 shooting from the field (2-for-9 from beyond the arc) in the last two losses to Penn State and Michigan State. But he had 18 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting in a 78-68 win against Ohio State Jan 8.
McBrayer is averaging 8.0 points on 34.2 percent (13-for-38) shooting in his last four games. He scored 11 points in the first half of the loss at Michigan State last week, but McBrayer went scoreless in the second half.
“It’s not a demotion (for) Dupree,” Pitino said. “That’s not what it is. But I'll give that a look. See how it looks this week.”