Gophers men’s basketball frontcourt without standout Dawson Garcia again Wednesday at Rutgers

Gophers men’s basketball frontcourt without standout Dawson Garcia again Wednesday at Rutgers

The frontcourt of the Gophers men’s basketball team is in flux — and that won’t change with leading scorer and rebounder Dawson Garcia out for the third straight game Wednesday night at Rutgers.

Two different starting centers have replaced Garcia since he was sidelined with a bone bruise late in the Jan. 22 loss at Michigan. The 6-11 transfer to North Carolina averaged 14.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in starting the first 18 games before sitting out for the first time in the Jan. 25 loss to Indiana. His team was down to seven scholarship players in the 61-57 loss.

“It’s close, but I’m not completely convinced,” Gophers coach Ben Johnson said Tuesday of Garcia’s comeback against the Scarlet Knights.

7-foot sophomore Treyton Thompson started in place of Garcia against the Hoosiers and finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 37 minutes. Freshman Pharrel Payne, who returned from concussion protocol, made his first career start in Saturday’s 81-61 loss at Northwestern, but finished with just three points, three rebounds and four turnovers in 17 minutes.

Thompson will wear a protective mask on Wednesday after suffering a broken nose against Northwestern, but he will be available. Junior forward Jamison Battle, who scored 20 points against the Wildcats, injured his back earlier last month but is finally looking healthy.

In the first seven games of this season, Thompson started with Garcia, but that was before rookie Joshua Ola-Joseph became a smaller but stronger and more athletic option. Former walk-on Will Ramberg also started four games when Battle was out to start the season after foot surgery.

The Gophers have battled some of the Big Ten’s best big men even at full strength during their five-game losing streak. The Scarlet Knights have their own front-row star who could be a formidable force in 6-11 junior Clifford Omoruyi, who leads the team with 13.4 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game.


Time: 7:30 p.m. CT, Wednesday. Where: Jersey Mike’s Arena. Line: Gophers 15-point underdogs. Series: Gophers lead 9-6, including a 68-65 win at Williams Arena on January 22, 2022. TV: Big Ten Network. Online/live video: BTN-Plus. Radio: 100.3-FM



Pos.-Player Ht. Year.PPG

G – Ta’Lon Cooper 6-4 195 Jr. 10.

G – Taurus Samuels 6-1 195 Sr. 3.0

F – Jamison Battle 6-7 220 Junior 13.1

F – Joshua Ola-Joseph 6-7 215 Fr. 6.9

F – Pharrell Payne 6-9 255 Fr. 7.0

Key Reserves – Treyton Thompson, C, 7-0, So., 2.1 ppg; Jaden Henley, G, 6-7, Fr., 3.9 pages; Will Ramberg, F, 6-5, Jr., 2.2 pages.

Coach: Ben Johnson 20-30 (2nd season)

Notable: Jamison Battle, who missed the first four games of the season after foot surgery, played a few games last month with a lingering back injury sustained in the Jan. 16 loss to Illinois. Battle, who is averaging nearly 13 points per game, recovered to post consecutive 20-point performances for the first time this season in losses to Indiana and Northwestern… The Gophers announced the 6- 8 Kadyn Betts will redshirt the 2022-23 season after reclassification and joining the team at the start of this year. Betts will be part of a highly touted 2023 class that was signed Nov. 9, including five-star center Dennis Evans III and four-star guard Cameron Christie. Christie and Evans were named McDonald’s All-American nominees last week. … The Gophers have lost four of the last five games to Rutgers and haven’t won against the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, NJ since a 72-63 win on Feb. 11, 2017.


Pos.-Player Ht. Year.PPG

G – Paul Mulcahy 6-7 213 Sr. 9.1

G-Caleb McConnell 6-7 200 Sr. 9.6

G – Cam Spencer 6-4 Jr. 207 12.9

F – Mawot Mag 6-8 217 Junior 7.8

F – Clifford Omoruyi 6-11 240 junior 13.4

Reserves – Aundre Hyatt, F, 6-11, Sr., 9.7 ppg; Derek Simpson, G, 6-3, Fr., 6.0 pages; Antwone Woolfolk, F, 6-9, Fr., 3.0 pages.

Coach: Steve Pikiell 309-272 (17th season)

Notable: The Scarlet Knights reached the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1975-76 last year, but they won’t be slowing down anytime soon. So far, no one in the country has a win on their resume like Rutgers’ loss to No. 1 Purdue. Steve Pikiell’s program is also on track for its best conference result since joining the Big Ten in 2014. The Scarlet Knights, who finished fourth in the Big Ten in 2020-21, are currently tied for third. ranking rank with Northwestern.

Fuller’s score prediction: Rutgers 66, Gophers 51.

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