High Point (16-14) at Minnesota (20-13)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 18, 8:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Television: ESPN3.com. NIT Record: High Point 0-0, Minnesota 22-12. Series
Record: Minnesota leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Minnesota Golden Gophers play host to the High Point Panthers
in the first round of the 2014 National Invitation Tournament.
One of the four No. 1 seeds in this event, Minnesota came up just shy of a
berth in the NCAA Tournament after finishing 20-13 overall. The Golden
Gophers, in their first season under head coach Richard Pitino, son of
Louisville's legendary head coach Rick, went just 8-10 in conference play.
They are hoping to build on a 22-12 record in the NIT all-time, and make up
for a loss to Stanford in the 2012 title game.
High Point won the regular-season title in the Big South, but couldn't carry
that success over to the conference tournament. The Panthers were sent packing
by Winthrop in the quarterfinals, 62-60. The loss ended a six-game win streak
for High Point, which makes its NIT debut tonight, sporting a 16-14 overall
In the only previous meeting between these two programs, Minnesota rolled to
an 82-56 win at Williams Arena during the 2008-09 season. The winner of this
encounter will take on either Saint Mary's or Utah in the next round.
High Point's loss to Winthrop could not have been more heartbreaking. The
Panthers, who trailed for most of the second half, rallied to take a 60-59
lead on an Adam Weary jumper with six seconds to play. However, just a few
seconds later, Andre Smith nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the game
to the Eagles.
Despite its winning record, High Point actually has a negative scoring
differential this season (-1.5), netting 70.7 ppg while allowing 72.2. The
Panthers are an efficient group offensively, connecting on 47.3 percent from
the floor, but any misses rarely go their way as they are the third worst
rebounding team on the glass (31.8 rpg). John Brown (19.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) does
most of the work in scoring and nearly all of it on the glass. Devante Wallace
(12.4 ppg) and Weary (11.9 ppg) also pitch in at the offensive end. Brown was
the only one of the three to have much success against Winthrop, finishing
with 17 points.
Minnesota was also set down in the quarterfinals of its league tournament,
falling to Wisconsin in an 83-47 rout. The Golden Gophers only connected on
32.8 percent of their shots from the floor, while allowing the Badgers to
convert at 54.5 percent. Austin Hollins was the leading scorer with 16 points,
while DeAndre Mathieu tallied team-highs in rebounds (seven), assists (five)
and steals (three).
Putting points on the board hasn't come all that easily for the Golden
Gophers this season, as they are netting just 71.2 ppg and shooting at a 44.5
percent clip from the field. However, they have remained competitive by
limiting foes to 67.8 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting. Andre Hollins (14.2 ppg)
is the leading scorer among a trio of strong backcourt performers, although he
is only shooting 39.8 percent from the field. Mathieu (12.1 ppg, 4.4 apg) is
the more efficient scorer (.502 FG percentage), as well as the team leader in
assists. Austin Hollins (11.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) can also be counted on to hit
Brown may be the most potent scorer on the floor in this contest, but the
Golden Gophers' balance will help lead them to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 74, High Point 62
03/18 10:33:11 ET