THE STORY: Even without Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota has outperformed expectations en route to a hot start and will look to extend its win streak to five games when it hosts Central Michigan Tuesday at Williams Arena. Led by senior Ralph Sampson III’s season-high 15 points and eight rebounds, the Gophers earned their fourth straight victory after defeating St. Peter’s, 69-47. Meanwhile, the Chippewas enter on a two-game skid after losing 65-57 against Tennessee State. Central Michigan shot 39 percent from the field and was held to less than 60 points for just the second time this season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN.
Radio: 7:30/8:00 KRDS 95.5 FM
ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (4-4): Trey Zeigler, who had a team-high 17 points in the loss to the Peacocks, leads the Chippewas’ offense, which averages 66 points per game. Freshman Austin McBroom is the second-leading scorer with 10 points, but offensively, Central Michigan has to get better at attacking the basket, as it managed only eight attempts from the free-throw line last time out. Defense has also been an issue for the Chippewas and three of their four losses have been by double-digits, including a 29-point loss to New Mexico State on Nov. 24.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (10-1): Mbakwe, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Gophers’ only loss this year, led the team in scoring with 14 points and was the team’s only scorer in double figures. Prior to Mbakwe’s injury, the Gophers had scored at least 70 points in six of seven games. Since then, they’ve only reached the 70-point mark once in four games. However, in his absence, Sampson and Rodney Williams have been effective, averaging seven and nine points respectively for Minnesota, which has been forced to rely on defense. The Gophers, who shoot 49 percent from the field, have held their opponent under 60 points eight times, including four straight.
1. Minnesota is 2-0 all-time against Central Michigan.
2. Andre Hollins, who missed the Gophers’ last game because of an ankle injury, is expected to play.
3. Central Michigan is one of the worst shooting teams in the nation and ranks 290th while making just 40 percent of its attempts.