So far the NIT has afforded the Gophers trips to Philadelphia and Miami. Hopefully they'll get a weekend trip to New York City as well. But they must first take care of business in Miami.
Game Time: 8:00 PM
|Pos||Minnesota (20-14)||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||Miami (20-12)||Pos|
|PG||10.1||7.4|| Shane Larkin ||G|
|F||9.1||6.9|| Rion Brown ||F|
|F||Rodney Williams||11.5||12.0||Kenny Kadji||F|
|C||7.9||10.0||Reggie Johnson ||C|
|Bench||5.4||4.4|| Garrius Adams ||Bench|
|Bench||5.7||7.0|| Trey McKinney-Jones ||Bench|
|Bench||2.6||5.8|| DeQuan Jones ||Bench|
The Hurricanes beat Valpo to earn their way into the 2nd round of the NIT. Valpo was doomed by shooting 5/27 from three in the loss while two of their guards were unable to play due to the flu. Miami is also without a starting guard for what will be the third game in a row because Durand Scott has been suspended for receiving impermissible benefits under the previous coaching staff.
The loss of the 6-4 junior who was the team's leading scorer and assist leader did not hurt them enough to lose to Valpo but hopefully for Gopher fans we can take advantage of this and get another road NIT win.
Stepping up in place of Scott will have to be the team's second leading scorer Kenny Kadji. He is a 6-11 shooter who so far has disappeared in the absence of Scott. The junior from Cameroon scored 5 points in the team's loss to Florida State in the ACC Tournament and then scored 2 in the win over Valpo. Kadji averages 12.5 ppg and 5.5 rebounds while consistently getting into double-figures (prior to the last few game). Whether or not he shows up offensively seems to be a real key for the Hurricanes. Kadji will start at PF and likely be guarded by Rodney Williams. I don't usually like a bigger guy guarding Rodney but this will be an interesting match-up.
There are a few match-ups that I do not think favor the Gophers. Shane Larkin is a very quick, freshman point guard who has really increased his production lately. I fear that he will have several steals tonight leading to some easy baskets. And then the match-up that I think I fear the most is whoever guards Reggie Johnson. We don't match-up well with 6-10, 280 who also scores double-figures and rebounds well. Eliason can maybe bang with the big man but I'm wondering how Ralph would fare, assuming he plays.
Miami is a solid team who really only lost to the teams ahead of them in the ACC and added a signature win over Duke in Cameron Indoor. 32.5% of their scoring comes from behind the arc (58th in the nation) so we will once again need to get out to shooters. They don't typically turn the ball over and they score at a pretty efficient rate. We will need a very good defensive effort and I think we need guys to play well against what I think are unique match-ups for us. Most importantly we need to take care of the ball, NO TURNOVERS. This should be an entertaining game against a couple of evenly matched teams.
Winner moves on as one of the remaining eight teams in the NIT to face the winner of Tennessee vs. Middle Tennessee St.