One Kruger down, one to more to go

Arizona State’s Kevin Kruger was beaten Monday. His father, Lon, coaches UNLV.

C.J. Spang

After battling back to get a come-from-behind overtime victory against Arizona State and junior guard Kevin Kruger on Monday, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team is looking to pick up win No. 2 against the Kruger clan.

The Gophers (4-2) host Nevada-Las Vegas at Williams Arena at noon Saturday. The Rebels are coached by Lon Kruger, Kevin’s father.

UNLV (2-4) enters the game on a four-game losing streak, while Minnesota has won two in a row.

The Rebels are led by senior forward Louis Amundson, who is averaging a double-double. The 6-foot-9-inch forward averages 17.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Michael Umeh is UNLV’s main three-point threat. The guard is shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc and averaging 13.2 points per game.

The Gophers have won their past two games, in part, with their own hot three-point shooting.

Minnesota is shooting a blistering 54.5 percent from the three in the past two games. Even hotter from beyond the arc in that span has been freshman guard Jamal Abu-Shamala. Abu-Shamala has nailed his last four three-point attempts.

“If I’m feeling like I can hit it, if I’m feeling comfortable out there, then I’ll shoot it,” Abu-Shamala said. “It’s basically just how I’m feeling and if I get the opportunity to shoot, I’ll put it up.”

Abu-Shamala walked on to the team and has since earned a scholarship. Because of the injuries to the backcourt, he has started two games and seen an increase in minutes.

“I definitely didn’t believe (I’d be starting) this soon,” Abu-Shamala said. “I mean, I was hoping… sometime in the future I’d do it, but definitely not this soon.”

Senior guard Adam Boone has anchored the team that lost its two primary scorers in senior guards Vincent Grier and Maurice Hargrow.

Boone averages 14.7 points per game, including a 28-point performance against the Sun Devils. He played 44 minutes in the overtime game.

“The last few games Adam has really stepped up and become a great leader,” Abu-Shamala said. “He’s leading by example and guys will follow, and since guys are following, I think that’s making us a lot better team.”

But Boone isn’t the only one picking up the offensive slack.

After a surprisingly slow start, sophomore forward Dan Coleman is averaging 13.0 points per game off the bench and sophomore center Spencer Tollackson is chipping in with an average of 10.7 points per game.

Even more impressive than the team’s contribution on the offensive end is their ability to play extended periods of time.

The Gophers showed obvious signs of fatigue in the losses to Gardner-Webb and Maryland, but haven’t worn down in their past two wins.

Injury updates

According to coach Dan Monson, Grier may be ahead of schedule in recovering from his broken hand, but Monson would not set a timetable for Grier’s return.

“What I don’t want to do is put the pressure on him to feel like he needs to play in any certain game,” Monson said. “What we don’t want to do is rush him or him to feel like he’s letting anybody down if he doesn’t play in a certain game.”

As for Hargrow’s return, Monson gave him a 50-50 shot to play in Saturday’s game.

Freshman guard Kevin Payton has been cleared to shoot and practice in noncontact situations.

“I would guess we’re going to get Vince before (Payton),” Monson said.