After falling out of the Top 25 following its latest road defeat, Minnesota will aim to reverse a season-long string of woes away from home when it visits Rutgers on Thursday night.
The Golden Gophers have lost each of their five road contests this season, yielding an average of 82.4 points per game while scoring 62.8 points a game.
Minnesota (11-6, 4-6 Big Ten) showed promise at Purdue on Saturday before squandering a 14-point lead in an eventual 81-62 loss.
“You could just tell we wore down a little bit,” Golden Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “We were in a flow offensively in the first half. We were playing really good defense, but I thought their physicality really grinded us down.”
Navigating a scoreless first half from leading scorer Marcus Carr, Minnesota rolled to an early 24-10 advantage before wilting. Carr shot 2-for-13 and finished with six points, 14 below his season average of 20, which ranks fourth in the conference.
“Marcus is a great player,” teammate Gabe Kalscheur said. “He’s the one who fuels our offense, so he’s going to bounce back for sure. I’m not worried about that.”
Defensively, Liam Robbins has helped steady Minnesota. He had a season-best six blocks at Purdue and is averaging 2.8 blocks a game.
Rutgers (10-6, 6-6 Big Ten), which also has tumbled out of the Top 25 this season, enters on a three-game winning streak. The Scarlet Knights never trailed Sunday in a 64-56 win at Northwestern.
Jacob Young scored 19 points, Ron Harper Jr. had each of his 13 points after halftime, and Geo Baker added 12 points.
“Everyone chipped in,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “I like how they’re settling in and have been really good. On the defense and rebounding front, we are way further along than where we’ve been.”
Hot starts have boosted the Scarlet Knights, who have outscored foes 67-32 in the first 10 minutes over the past three games.
After Thursday, the Golden Gophers’ remaining road games are at Maryland, Indiana and Penn State. Among that trio, Minnesota has faced only Maryland this season, losing by 14 at home on Jan. 23.
Minnesota has lost each of the five games in which it has scored 65 or fewer points.
The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series against the Scarlet Knights 8-4, but are just 1-3 at Rutgers and have lost two straight in the series overall.
–Field Level Media