Mizzou Basketball opponent preview: Minnesota

BleedGopher

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OUTLOOK​

The Golden Gophers’ first two years under head coach Ben Johnson haven’t gone as planned, with the team going 22-39 overall and 6-33 in conference play over the past two seasons combined.

The group struggled to make shots on offense and keep opponents from knocking down 3-pointers on defense last year. But the Gophers did show some promise on both ends. For instance, 63.1% of the team’s made field goals came from an assist, which ranked ninth in the nation. The team was also solid at defending the paint, with just 56.9% of opponents’ points coming off of 2-pointers, which ranked 17th in the country.

Minnesota saw a few of its starters move on, including Jamison Battle, the team’s second-leading scorer, and Ta’Lon Cooper, the team’s top facilitator. But Johnson also got back some of his most important players. Dawson Garcia led the team scoring 15.3 points and pulling down 6.7 boards per game and will likely anchor the offense again. Pharrel Payne gives the team much-needed size and should help hold down the fort around the rim.

Minnesota will also hope its incoming transfers can keep up the ball movement that the team had success with a year ago. Both Elijah Hawkins and Mike Mitchell Jr.led their former squads in assists. Both players also shot above 40% from beyond the arc, which should provide better spacing all-around, especially for Garcia inside.

The Golden Gophers could get a boost of production from four-star freshman Cameron Christie, who averaged 22 points per game as a senior in high school and is the younger brother of current Los Angeles Laker Max Christie. The team will also get if Kadyn Betts is ready to contribute after redshirting his first season in Minneapolis.

Mizzou gets the challenge of facing Minnesota on the road in the first leg of the teams’ home-and-home, with the Golden Gophers making the return trip in the 2024-25 season. Both groups will be facing some of the same difficulties of going up against a high-major opponent early in the year while trying to get their newcomers up to speed with their returners. Minnesota had just three wins against high-major opponents last year and will take this game as an opportunity to prove that the program is beginning to turn a corner.


Go Gophers!!
 






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