Gophers take aim at 6-0 start with Roos on tap

NCAA Basketball

Minnesota guard Tre’ Williams said the undefeated Golden Gophers have successfully made the most of a tough situation.

“I think the team is a lot closer with the pandemic hitting,” he said Tuesday night after Minnesota’s 85-80 overtime win over Boston College. “We can’t really go out, it’s just practice and then go back to where we all live.

“We’re all hanging out on a daily basis. We go back and eat together, hang out together, do everything together. I think that’s helped us build a bond, it’s helped us build trust with one another.”

Minnesota aims to improve its record to 6-0 Thursday night with a home game against Missouri-Kansas City. While the Roos (2-2)might not provide the stiffest opposition, the timing of the game could be an interesting test.

Sandwiched between the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the conference opener on Dec. 15 at preseason favorite and No. 6 Illinois, do the Golden Gophers get caught looking ahead to a big game and trip up?

“We have to keep learning and growing,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “We have six new players, and we have guys playing positions they aren’t used to … so to be able to learn from winning is huge.”

Players at new positions do not include point guard Marcus Carr, who has emerged as the team’s star. Carr scored 20 of his 22 points after halftime on Tuesday, including nine in overtime, and is seventh in the country in scoring at 25.6 points per game while also dishing out six assists per game.

Utah transfer Both Gach contributed 16 points and nine rebounds, and is scoring 15.6 ppg, five more than he managed as a sophomore two years ago with the Utes.

UMKC opened with two blowout wins against non-Division I competition, including scoring 138 points against Division III Greenville (Ill.). Its two losses have come against Southeast Missouri State and Kansas State.

The Roos haven’t played since a 62-58 setback on Nov. 30 against K-State, so they’ll have 10 days of rust to chip off their game. They are led offensively by Brandon McKissic, who went off for 24 points at Kansas State and is averaging 15.3 ppg.

UMKC coach Billy Donlon wasn’t unhappy with the squad’s effort at Kansas State.

“We played closer to Kansas City basketball,” he said. “Now we need to focus on basketball improvement.”

–Field Level Media

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