Minnesota hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday in its final non-conference contest, giving the Golden Gophers one more chance to work with their four-guard rotation. Transfers Malik Smith and DeAndre Mathieu have been a good addition to the returning backcourt of Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins. The four guards are each averaging at least 10 points, giving Minnesota plenty of options on offense.
"It gives us a lot of confidence going into Big Ten (play) because teams don't play a lot of guards like we do," Smith told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We're just going to try to outrun teams and outwork teams day in and day out. We're just going to be confident while we're doing that." Minnesota has won five straight since back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Arkansas in November. The Islanders are winless on the road and have lost seven straight overall.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (3-9): John Jordan leads the Islanders with 16.1 points and 4.5 assists. Jeff Beverly adds 11.1 points and Zane Knowles chips in 7.7 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Islanders rank 295th in assists, averaging 11.2 assists on 23.2 made field goals.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (10-2): Returning starters Andre Hollins (16 points) and Austin Hollins (13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds) lead the Gophers' high-scoring backcourt. Mathieu, a transfer from Central Arizona College, averages 11.9 points and 4.8 assists while Smith, who came from Florida International with first-year coach Richard Pitino, adds 10 points per contest off the bench. Elliott Eliason, a 6-11 center, is third in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.4) and second in blocked shots (2.3).
1. The Gophers are 8-0 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 16.4 points.
2. The Islanders have been outscored by 18.5 points in four road losses.
3. "Those two guys (Mathieu and Smith) on this team, they're fearless when they go out there," Pitino told the Pioneer Press. "We almost need Andre and Austin to get that kind of mentality."
PREDICTION: Minnesota 81, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 65