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Minnesota Basketball: Three Keys Gophers beating Western Kentucky

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The Gophers face the Hilltoppers on a neutral floor in Asheville Championship

Kelly Hagenson

Asheville

5:30 PM

ESPNU

Western Kentucky

Hey the Gophers are undefeated and Ben Johnson is currently the winningest coach in the program’s history.

Western Kentucky

Mascot: Hilltoppers
Conference: Conf USA
Record: 1-0
KenPom Rank: #98

Now the Gophers come into a game as an underdog against the Hilltoppers. Now part of WKU’s outlook this year was based on incoming Cincy transfer Keith Williams, who was expected to come in and be one of the top players in Conference USA. Williams has not played in the Hilltopper’s exhibition or first regular season games. Why? I’m not sure. But his absence may very well help out the Gophers tonight.

KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN

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No Fouling - The Hilltoppers took 30 free throws as they struggled to score against Alabama St in their opener. If this team is struggling to score, don’t bail them out with a bunch of trips to the free throw line. Make them earn it.

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Continue to Defensive Rebound - The frontcourt for the Gophers is not particularly physical or intimidating, but collectively the entire Gopher five did a great job securing rebounds. This isn’t about having the biggest guy or Trevor Mbakwe caliber power forward. It is about positioning and boxing out and being diligent with those things.

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Shooting - I am very interested to see how this unit continues to shoot the ball. So far this area is a dramatic improvement over what we witnessed last season. Really interested in being able to watch this game to see what they are doing offensively to get open shots and then presumably make them.

PREDICTION

Not having their best player available really makes this a winable game for the Gophers. With Williams playing, this is a guaranteed Hilltopper prediction. But now things are more interesting.

I’m going to roll with optimism until proven otherwise and this is a confidence building win away from The Barn for CBJ’s Gophers.

Minnesota - 73
Western Kentucky - 68