Gophers To Meet Georgia State Sunday

The Minnesota Gophers, who open their regular-season opener with a 76-51 win over Division II Concordia St. Paul and followed with a 68-61 victory over Bowling Green, conclude their play in the NABC Classic versus Georgia State Sunday night. The Gophers blocked a school record 17 shots against the Falcons Saturday as Colton Iverson swatted nine shots.

Georgia State went 9-21 a year ago with a 5-13 record in Colonial Athletic Association play, but figures to be one of the country's most improved teams. The Panthers fell to Bowling Green in overtime 77-76 Friday, but bounced back to defeat Concordia St. Paul.

Second-year head coach Rod Barnes has added five Division I transfers in Bernard Rimmer (Mississippi State), Trey Hampton (Ole Miss), Joe Dukes (Wake Forest), Xavier Hansbro (Ole Miss), and Dante Curry (South Florida). Curry will not be eligible until December and will not play against Minnesota.

Georgia State also returns its top three scorers from last year in senior Leonard Mendez (16.0 points per game), junior Trae Goldston (9.3 ppg) and senior Rashad Chase (7.5 ppg). Mendez is a preseason first-team all-conference selection after earning third-team all-CAA honors a year ago. He shot better than 40 percent from three-point range last year. Goldston was second on the team at 9.3 ppg while leading the CAA in three-point percentage in conference games (.464). Chase averaged 7.5 points and a team-leading 7.6 rebounds, good for fifth in the CAA.

"With so many new players, we have to continue to work through some kinks and try to get the chemistry right," said Barnes. "We have not played as well, or come together as quickly as I might have liked, but I do understand that it will take some time."

The Panthers also welcome junior forwards Ousman Krubally, (3.5 ppg and 3.2 rpg) and Kevin Lott (4.6 ppg and 2.5 rpg). Junior college transfer Chris Echols, a 6-6 forward from Arkansas-Ft. Smith, and Fields, a freshman from Savannah, Ga., add depth.

Dukes has been the team's top players through two games. He had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the season opener and had 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in their win over Concordia St. Paul. Mendez had 15 and 12 points in the two games. Hansbro scored 16 points in the season opener as a starter, but was held to just five points off the bench in their second game of the year.

Rimer and Echols combined for just five points in the season opener, but had 29 points in the second game.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories