Gophers vs. New Orleans: 5 thing to watch for

Jace Frederick

Saturday starts a calmer stretch for the Gophers as the players head into finals and the holiday season. After Saturday, the Gophers will play just three games in 20 days. 

Here are my five things to watch for:

Staying sharp: The Gophers are coming off of a hard-fought win over Florida State on Tuesday. New Orleans is no Florida State, so will the Gophers bring the same intensity?

Bench Performance: If the Gophers can build a sizable lead on Saturday, the bench players could see a lot of action. If the likes of Wally Ellenson, Maverick Ahanmisi and Charles Buggs get ample minutes, how will they look? Games like these can be pivotal in building up the depth necessary to battle through the Big Ten grind.

Andre Hollins' aggressiveness: Granted, Tuesday night was likely an admiration. Fouls were called left and right. But still, Andre Hollins made an astounding 16 trips to the line en route to 21 points on a night when his jumper wasn't falling (3 of 13 from the field). Can Hollins maintain that attacking nature today, and moving forward?

Hitting the boards: The Privateers' tallest player is 6-8. The Gophers have been competitive on the glass of late, and today presents an opportunity to dominate the statistic. Gophers centers Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason could be in line for big days down low.

Malik Smith: Yup, just watch him. Smith sat out much of the second half against Florida State after taking a shot Gophers head coach Richard Pitino joked was so bad that he thought Smith should have been suspended for it. Well, Smith is likely to get back to his regular minutes on Saturday, and likely still won't be shy about putting the ball up.