NIT Preview: La Salle

Six-seeded Minnesota opens up NIT tournament play against No. 3 La Salle. Tip-off at Tom Gola Arena is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

No. 6 Minnesota (19-14, 6-12) vs. No. 3 La Salle (21-12, 9-7)
Philadelphia, Pa. – Tom Gola Arena
6:00 p.m. CT – ESPN2 (John Saunders, Stephen Bardo)

QUOTEABLE

"Obviously, everyone would prefer to be in the NCAA Tournament, but you're judged by the company you keep, and you're going to see some household names in that tournament," – La Salle coach John Giannini said of the NIT.

"As a whole, it's been great." – guard Ramon Galloway, a transfer from South Carolina, on his first season at La Salle.

PREGAME NOTES

Regular Season Review: La Salle parlayed a much-improved defense into some big early wins and at one point was on top of the A-10 standings after beginning conference play with a 6-2 record. But when a three-game losing streak followed a four-game winning streak, the Explorers dropped into the middle of the pack. They finished with a 9-7 conference record, their first winning league ledger since 2008-09, when they had the same mark. La Salle's 21 wins represents the most for the program since the Explorers won 30 in 1989-90.

Scouting Report: La Salle coach John Giannini starts four guards and has gotten double-figure scoring averages out of every one of them. Senior Earl Pettis leads with his 15.3 average followed by junior Ramon Galloway at 14.2. Sophomores Tyreek Duren and Sam Mills average 13.5 and 10.7, respectively. The four-guard system puts a big load on freshman forward Jerrell Wright, but he has handled it quite well. He leads the team in rebounding with 5.6 a game.

Series History: Minnesota leads the all-time series 1-0. The two teams met in the 1965 Quaker City Tournament at the Palestra, with Minnesota winning 92-87. La Salle is 9-10 all-time against teams currently in the Big Ten.

Behind the Arc: La Salle is shooting 40.4 percent from long range, which leads the A-10 and is seventh nationally. Junior guard Ramon Galloway goes into the Minnesota game shooting a team high 43.8 percent from 3-point range.

Roster Report: Forward Jerrell Wright was named to the A-10's All-Rookie team, the fifth Explorer over the last six seasons to get that recognition.

Projected Starters:
F 25 Jerrell Wright (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 9.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
G 55 Ramon Galloway (6-3, 175, Jr.) – 14.2 ppg, 3.5 apg
G 23 Earl Pettis (6-5, 215, Sr.) – 15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
G 10 Sam Mills (6-2, 180, So.) – 10.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G 3 Tyreek Duren (6-0, 180, So.) – 13.5 ppg, 4.0 apg

Background:
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Enrollment: 4,773
Conference: Atlantic 10
Mascot: Explorers
Colors: Dark Blue and Gold
Coach: John Giannini (7th Season)


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