MAUI, Hawaii – Arkansas has had plenty of battles with a guy named Pitino on the other bench, but it will be a different one that the Razorbacks face on Tuesday.
Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino – son of current Louisville and former Kentucky head coach – will be on the other bench Tuesday when his Gophers (5-1) takes on he Razorbacks (3-1) in the Maui Invitational consolation bracket at 1 p.m. CST.
California downed Arkansas 85-77 on Monday while Syracuse knocked off Minnesota 75-68 in the tournament's opening two games.
"It was certainly a hard-fought loss, but I am very, very proud of of our team," Pitino said. "I thought today our team – and I told them this – that when you are building a program and you are at the early, early stages, you want to show that you can compete on every single possession. Our guys did that tonight."
Malik Smith – a 6-2 senior guard - had 16 points to lead Minnesota while Memphis natives Andre Hollins (6-4) and Austin Hollins (6-2) added 14 and 11 each while Eliason – had 6 points and a team-high 9 rebounds.
"It was a tough game to be undermanned with no (6-10, 240-pound injured center) Mo Walker and (6-11, 240-pound) Elliott (Eliason) in foul trouble, but we just had to try and make it work," Pitino added. "When Mo gets back, that is going to be a big help for us, but I am very proud of these guys. They really fought hard and showed that hopefully we are not going to be an easy out for anybody."
The younger Pitino – who is just 32 and in his first year at Minnesota after coaching one season at Florida International – was an assistant for both his father and Florida head coach Billy Donovan.
Andre Hollins is averaging 18.2 points per game while Eliason is leading on the boards with over 10 per game for a team which likes to play an up-tempo game.
The Gophers shot 42.9 percent from the field on Monday.
"We just try to compete night in and night out like Coach says," Andre Hollins said. "We try to work hard every day and try to transfer that over to the game."
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The second round match-up of Syracuse and California will be a rematch of last year's Orange victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Anything other than what we did last year would be a starting point," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "Last year's zone that Syracuse played, because I played them more than once, I thought was best zone that I have ever seen them play."
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was very complimentary of what he saw in the Califorina win over Arkansas.
"I thought that Cal was – I watched a lot of that game, and I think they're much better than they were last year, a much better team," Boehiem said. "I really was impressed with how they played. It will be a tremendous challenge for us."
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Baylor dropped Chaminade 93-77 and Dayton upset Gonzaga 84-79 in the two night games.
Arkansas to Battle Minnesota
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