When Chicago State visits Minnesota for a 1 p.m. tipoff Thursday — moved up from a night game to get ahead of an impending winter storm — the big question will be whether rust or rest wins out.
Chicago State won’t have much rest, given it suffered a 66-52 loss at Illinois State on Monday.
But the Cougars (3-11) hope playing more recently will lead to them being sharper against a Minnesota team (5-6) that last played on Dec. 14, which was a 72-56 home win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
It was a needed win for the Golden Gophers, who snapped a five-game losing streak entering the eight-day layoff.
Minnesota head coach Ben Johnson said the big key for his team’s success is pretty simple: Sharing the ball on offense.
“We are not a team that is a no-pass team or a one-pass team,” Johnson said. “We get better numbers when we move it or the ball gets reversed and we swing it. When there are multiple touches, that is when we get good shots to great shots. So we really try to emphasize that. Don’t let the ball stick. Keep it moving. Make the extra one. Don’t get a good one, get a great one.”
In the win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Gophers posted a season-high 21 assists — well over their season average of 13.9.
Minnesota has three players scoring in double-figures: Dawson Garcia (13.9 points per game.), Jamison Battle (12.7) and Ta’Lon Cooper (10.6). Cooper had eight assists in the most recent win.
Wesely Cardet, Jr. leads Chicago State in scoring with 15.3 points per game, while Jahsean Corbett (13.8) and Elijah Weaver (10.5) also average in double figures.
Chicago State enters having lost four in a row and nine of its past 10 games.
The Cougars are averaging 66.0 points a game and shooting 41.1 percent from the field overall, while Minnesota enters averaging 63.9 points per game and shooting 42.4 percent from the field.
Minnesota has won the three previous meetings (all at home), most recently 70-52 on Dec. 16, 2015.
–Field Level Media