Gophers senior guard Nate Mason could play Saturday against Harvard despite suffering an ankle injury in his last game, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said Friday.

"Still kind of day-to-day," Pitino said. "I'm hopeful he'll play. If you asked him, he'll say he's going to play. We want him ready more than anything."

Mason, who ranks second on the team in scoring (15.5) and first in assists (4.1), suffered a left ankle injury in the second half of last week's win against Florida Atlantic. He was able to do an individual workout Thursday, but still hasn't been cleared to play.

Pitino said the Gophers avoided huge loss when Mason wasn't seriously hurt after the MRI came back negative last Saturday night.

"I just kept checking my phone," Pitino said. "It was a big, big sigh of relief, because he's obviously extremely important to our team. He was playing well. It didn't look good."

The Gophers are hoping both Mason and junior guard Dupree McBrayer are healthy when Big Ten play starts again Wednesday against Illinois and Saturday against Indiana, both home games.

McBrayer is expected to return Saturday after missing the last two games with a lower left leg injury. He was replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Michael Hurt.

"Dupree more than anything, he just needed a break," Pitino said. "Our trainer looked at the schedule and said we could give him off for Christmas. It's always going to be there, so it's more monitoring it."