Gophers head south to face ‘Canes

Minnesota looks to help the Big Ten win its first Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

by Marco LaNave

After losing its final two games in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., last weekend, the Gophers menâÄôs basketball team will travel to another corner of the country as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Minnesota (4-2) will visit Miami (7-0) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla. It will be the only nonconference road game for the Gophers, who havenâÄôt won on an opponentâÄôs home court since last January. They won their first three games on the road last season but lost six of their final seven âÄî all in Big Ten play âÄî including each of their past five. Minnesota has never faced the Hurricanes, who reached the second round of the NIT last season. Their most impressive victory so far was an 85-70 win over South Carolina on Nov. 22 in the championship game of the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. The Hurricanes have a young team with five freshmen and four sophomores on their 13-man roster. They have four seniors, though, led by forward Dwayne Collins, who is averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this season and is 8 points away from 1,000 for his career. He is listed at 6-foot-8-inches with a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, which could mean trouble for the Gophers, who have had to rely on inside scoring as their outside shooting has cooled. Among the younger Hurricanes, freshman guard Durand Scott has started five of the first seven games. A native of New York, he was the No. 8-ranked shooting guard in the 2009 recruiting class and had offers from Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh and UCLA, among other schools, according to He has scored just 7 points per game but leads Miami with 4.7 assists per game and 11 total steals. He has competed for time with sophomore Malcolm Grant, who sat out last season after transferring from Villanova. Grant has averaged 11.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. The Gophers couldnâÄôt capitalize on turnovers in their two losses last weekend as they had in earlier games, but they might have chances to do so on Wednesday. Miami has averaged 18.3 turnovers per game this season and has committed more than 20 turnovers three times. The Gophers had nearly twice as many assists as turnovers through their first three games but had more turnovers than assists in each of their games in the 76 Classic. Last weekend was one to forget for Minnesota and the Big Ten, which saw four of its six ranked teams lose to then-unranked opponents. The conference could rebound by winning this weekâÄôs Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the first time in its 11-year history. The Big Ten has reason to believe this will be its year, as six of last yearâÄôs 11 games were decided by five points or fewer, and six Big Ten teams were ranked before last weekend. Each conference will have three ranked teams in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The highlight will be a rematch of last seasonâÄôs national championship between No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. Miami, which joined the ACC in 2004, is the only team in either conference that has not won a game in the Challenge. Minnesota is 4-6 all-time in the Challenge and 1-1 under third-year head coach Tubby Smith. The Gophers lost at Florida State in 2007 and defeated Virginia at home last season. Smith is 2-0 against Miami, winning twice as the head coach of Kentucky.