MEN’S BASKETBALL

Zach Eisendrath

After the senior trio of guard Lawrence McKenzie, forward Dan Coleman and center Spencer Tollackson went a combined 8-of-31 in the Gophers’ 75-61 loss to Florida State on Tuesday, Minnesota’s big three came to a mutual conclusion: “We must be more productive.”

12 noon, Saturday at Williams Arena
TV: Big Ten Network

In the locker room following the game, the three immediately talked things over and agreed that for the team to get to where it wants to be, they need to be much more effective.

Look for all three starters to attempt to prove just how effective they can be when the Gophers (3-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) begin their five-game homestand on Saturday against UC Riverside (2-4, 0-0 Big West).

The first-ever meeting between the two schools is slated to start at noon at Williams Arena.

Last time out

Poor shooting mixed with turnovers contributed to Minnesota’s first loss of the season Tuesday night.

The Gophers went 24-of-72 (33 percent) from the field and just 7-of-26 (27 percent) from three-point range against Florida State.

Along with improving its shooting, Minnesota is looking to improve its ball handling. Coach Tubby Smith’s team has 42 turnovers in the last two games after turning the ball over 18 times against the Seminoles.

UC Riverside beat Hope International 85-49 Wednesday night to improve to 2-4 on the young season.

The Highlanders are now on a two-game winning streak after dropping their first four games of the season, including double-digit losses at Texas Tech (68-56) and Gonzaga (84-48).

Players to watch

Blake Hoffarber
Freshman shooting gaurd

Besides monitoring how the seniors respond following their struggles in Tallahassee, it should be interesting to watch how freshman shooting guard Blake Hoffarber plays following a breakout game against Florida State. In 22 minutes of action against the Seminoles, Hoffarber scored a career-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He was also 2-of-6 on three-pointers.

Larry Cunningham
Senior Guard

Larry Cunningham, who put up a game-high 21 points in UC-Riverside’s Wednesday night victory, is the Highlanders’ biggest scoring threat.

Thoughts on the game

Minnesota should be able to hold off UC- Riverside, picked to finish last overall (ninth) in the Big West, behind former Minnesota coach Dan Monson’s new team Long Beach State (picked eighth), if it doesn’t take the game for granted and isn’t careless with the basketball.

Smith has kept his team focused all season, so overlooking any opponent seems unlikely for the Gophers this season.