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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Utah

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The Gophers continue their tough non-con schedule with a trip to Salt Lake City

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been two straight games of “meh” play from the Gophers, who have left a pair of very winnable games on the court en route to an underwhelming 1-2 start to the season. A second-half meltdown against the Oklahoma Sooners left something to be desired, but it was the encore performance on the road against the Butler Bulldogs that really drove it home. A miserable night from the field and a disappearing act of the fundamentals led to a 64-56 loss to a Butler team that was all but trying to give the game away to Minnesota.

Perhaps it’s a leading indicator of what to expect this season, as the Gophers look like they’re a long ways away from even beginning to replace the departures of Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy. The four-spot is a black hole and beyond Daniel Oturu there is hardly another go-to scoring option that can consistently contribute. Yes, it’s only the fourth game of the season, but if the Gophers want to get some momentum going it has to happen quickly.

On to Utah, where Minnesota looks to sweep the home-and-home series against a Utes team that is fresh off an incredible 94-point drubbing of Mississippi Valley State, which set a record for margin of victory in an intra-Division-I basketball game.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Utah Utes (2-0)

What time are they playing?

Friday, Nov. 15 @ 8 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Jon M. Huntsman Center (Salt Lake City, UT)

Can I watch the game on TV?

It’s on the Pac-12 Network, so good luck.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3-FM and SiriusXM 970

Tell me more about the opponent.

Think the Utes are looking for some revenge after last season? Utah is 2-0 on the season and coming off one of the more amazing wins in NCAA history, having defeated the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State 143-49. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Two different Utes recorded triple-doubles in the game in Both Gach (12-10-10) and Rylan Jones (10-10-11).

Utah won its opener at Nevada, 79-74, prior to the MVSU game and received 14 votes in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. This team is no slouch and will be another tough test for a Minnesota team that is desperately looking to break an early season swoon.

Timmy Allen leads the Utes offense scoring 24.5 points per game thus far, while seven Utah players average double-figure scoring heading into Friday’s game. That will happen when you score 140-plus points in a game.

Predictions

The Gophers once again are true underdogs in this one, though only by three or four points. More concerning was their performance against Butler, which leaves them firmly in the “prove it to me” camp for the time being. Until this team shows that it can take care of the ball, minimize opponent second chance points and find more consistent ways to score they’ll find themselves firmly in the loss column for a while.

I’m taking Utah to cover.