Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-9) at Minnesota (10-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 28, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: BTN. Home Record: TXA&M-CC 3-5, Minnesota 8-0. Away Record: TXA&M- CC 0-4, Minnesota 1-0. Neutral Record: TXA&M-CC 0-0, Minnesota 1-2. Conference Record: TXA&M-CC 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Two teams trending in opposite directions clash on Saturday night, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers welcome the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders to Williams Arena for a non-conference affair.
TXA&M-CC has not encountered much success this season, as it sports just a 3-9 record, but it has been especially bad in recent weeks with seven straight losses. The Islanders most recently fell in heartbreaking fashion to Cal State Northridge on Dec. 20, 67-66, and now head back out on the road where they've gone 0-4.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has been surging of late, picking up wins in each of their last five contests. The Gophers, currently in the midst of a season-long seven-game homestand, took down Nebraska Omaha on Dec. 20, 92-79, to remain perfect at Williams Arena in eight tries.
The Islanders and the Gophers have never before met in men's basketball.
The Islanders stood toe-to-toe with CSUN in their most recent game, but after Brandon Pye hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:37 left, they fell victim to the game-winning bucket on the ensuing possession on their way to the disappointing one-point loss. They shot a respectable 45.3 percent from the field, but they could not keep pace with CSUN (.523). John Jordan did his best to keep the team in the game, logging 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Rashawn Thomas (10 points), Hameed Ali (9) and Joy Williamson (9) were all impressive off the bench. Not surprisingly, TXA&M-CC has struggled this season at both ends of the floor, shooting just 43.6 percent for 66.7 points per game, while allowing 70.2. Jordan is the go-to option with 16.1 points per game and he drains 70.7 percent of his 8.4 free-throw attempts per game. Jeff Beverly (11.1 ppg) has enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign, while Zane Knowles (7.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is a sturdy option in the paint.
In what was their best offensive performance of the season, the Gophers shot 51.7 percent from the field and 72.4 percent from the free-throw line on their way to a 92-point explosion, pulling away from Nebraska Omaha late in the game for a 13-point win. DeAndre Mathieu shined in a career-best performance, going 9-of-11 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the stripe for 27 points. Malik Smith shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range off the bench for 19 points, Andre Hollins tallied a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Elliott Eliason narrowly missed one with 10 points and nine boards, and Austin Hollins also scored 10. On the season, Minnesota just barely outshoots its opponents from the field, 43.9 percent to 42.3 percent, but it is still able to put up 78.4 points per game for a +11.6 scoring margin thanks largely to a +3.8 rebounding margin and a strong 77.6 percent showing at the free-throw line on nearly 24 attempts per game. Andre Hollins leads the way with 16.0 points per game, while Austin Hollins (13.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Mathieu (11.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Smith (10.0 ppg) and Eliason (6.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg) are also integral pieces to the puzzle.
With Minnesota playing its best basketball of late and TXA&M-CC floundering, the writing is on the wall. Expect the Gophers to put this one away by intermission.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 88, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 60
12/28 10:45:25 ET