Richard Pitino said freshman Nate Mason will most likely start at point guard again, in place of senior DeAndre Mathieu, when Minnesota travels to Michigan State on Thursday (6 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network).
"DeAndre's just not having a great year," the coach said. "You've got to play the players that are playing well."
Mason started at Wisconsin on Saturday for the fourth time this season, and the first time in more than a month. After the Gophers came away with a 63-53 loss, Pitino commented that he didn't like Mathieu's attitude after the previous loss, vs. Northwestern at home.
Statistically, it seems to make sense as well. Heading into East Lansing, Mathieu is averaging 8.4 points and a 2.65-to-1 assist to turnover ratio while Mason is putting up 9.6 points a game with a 2.59-to-1 assist to turnover ratio.
"I don't really see much of a difference between the two," junior Joey King said. "Obviously they're both great point guards. Freshman, senior, I don't really see a difference."
Debate over whether court storming should be allowed in college basketball has become an annual thing, and after Kansas State's 70-63 upset of Kansas-- and subsequent storming of the floor -- went less smoothly than it could have, with Jayhawks coach Bill Self pushed up against the scorers table, and a player receiving a running shove, the argument has hit once again. Proponents say it's fun. Critics say it's dangerous.
Pitino, while in favor of beefed up security measures, said he doesn't want the NCAA to get rid of the student-led tradition.
"With Kansas State, I'm watching that and how many points did they win by? So the Kansas State people, in my opinion, they just need to be preemptive and just shield everybody off and make sure everybody can get off the court," he said. "It's different than when Indiana hits a buzzer beater vs. Kentucky last year. That's tough. So just do your best to get the opposing team off the court, protect them. As long as you do that, I've got no problem with it. It's part of college basketball, it's fun to watch."
Growing up in Eagan, Joey King remembers watching Kevin Garnett -- who was recently traded back to the Timberwolves after a seven-year hiatus -- with the team that drafted him.
"Definitely a lot of fun," he said. "I'm glad to have him back. I think he's going to be a great, you know, leader."
About those old No. 21 jerseys of his? He'll have to get a new one.
"They don't fit me anymore," he said.