MINNESOTA (10-1) vs. ILLINOIS (9-3)
Tuesday, Jan. 4
6 p.m. CT
Minneapolis, Minn. (Williams Arena)
184th Meeting (Illinois Leads, 117-66)
Home vs Illinois: 45-45
Minnesota vs. Big Ten: 781-868
• The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team is back in action Tuesday night as the Golden Gophers resume Big Ten Conference play against Illinois. Both programs are back in action for the first time since Dec. 22. This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 2, however, was rescheduled due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Illinois program. Minnesota’s game against Alcorn State was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Braves’ program. The Golden Gophers are coming off a 72-56 win over Green Bay (Dec. 22). Minnesota went undefeated in nonconference play this season with a 9-0 record.
• Despite its loss to Michigan State on Dec. 8, Minnesota is still one of 15 teams undefeated or have lost just once in Division I basketball. The Gophers are off to their best start since 2016-17. Minnesota went 13-1 to start the season that year, as it only dropped a road contest to Florida State during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The 13-1 mark was all during non-conference play that season.
• Payton Willis earned his 1,000th career point Dec. 22 in the win against Green Bay. The senior now has 1,013 career points, of which 420 have come as a Golden Gopher. Not only did Willis
reach his 1,000th career point, he also had 10 assists in the win, a career high. Willis was the first Gopher since 2020 to have a double-double in points (14) and assists (10).
• Eric Curry accomplished something new in his six years with the Golden Gophers. Curry obtained his first career double-double in the win against Green Bay. This season, Curry has set career
best games in points (18 vs. Michigan State), field goals made and attempted (9-of-14 against MSU), rebounds (12 vs. Texas A&M CC) and tied career bests in assists.
• Jamison Battle is ranked sixth in Big Ten overall scoring. He averages 18.9 points per game, while Payton Willis ranks ninth in the league at 16.3. Willis holds this league’s best three-point percentage at 46.0 percent, while Battle is sixth at 35.9. Battle leads the league averaging 37.5 minutes played. The duo also ranks third and fourth in three-point average.
Gopher head coach Ben Johnson likes how his team is playing:
(info and photos courtesy of Gopher Sports, Brad Rempel)