GOPHERS MEN'S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY
Gophers vs. New Orleans: 6 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena
TV; radio: Big Ten Network; 103.5 FM
For the fans: Gophers are celebrating throwback night on Thursday at the Barn. Students attending the game get a free 90's-themed T-shirt.
Pregame reading: Gophers transfers Mike Mitchell Jr. and Jack Wilson returned home to the Bay Area when they faced San Francisco on Sunday at the Golden State Warriors' arena. Despite the loss, they were grateful to see family and revisit their high school days in Northern California.
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Marcus Fuller's preview:
Opening bell: Every opponent will try to speed up the Gophers and make turnovers the biggest factor. That was the case when 18 turnovers turned into 25 points for San Francisco in an 18-point Gophers loss at the Chase Center on Sunday. New Orleans (3-3) is one of the fastest teams in the country and ranks seventh nationally in turnovers forced per game (17.5). Minnesota's worst among Big Ten teams in taking care of the ball (14.7 turnovers per game).
Watch him: Other high-scoring guards have faced the Gophers so far this season, but New Orleans' Jordan Johnson is arguably the best pure shooter they've come across. Johnson isn't big (6-1, 170 pounds) but he led the NCAA in three-point percentage (48.2) last season. And he ranks fourth in the nation in scoring (23.3 points) on 40% shooting from three this year. Johnson's already hit six threes in a game twice this season.
Injuries: Gophers' Pharrel Payne (foot) continues to be monitored day to day. He had been on a minutes restriction until scoring 15 points in a season-high 26 minutes Sunday.
Forecast: With losses to Missouri and San Francisco already on the nonconference slate, the Gophers can't afford to lose even more momentum going into Big Ten play. The early conference schedule begins Sunday at Ohio State, followed by Nebraska next week. Ben Johnson hinted at tweaking his starting lineup, so Thursday's game vs. New Orleans could see a new look.
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