Nov 21, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Andre Hollins (1) and center Elliott Eliason (55) celebrate during the first half against the Wofford Terriers at Williams Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Staying perfect on the young season, the Minnesota men’s basketball team improved to 5-0 overall after they defeated the Wofford Terriers 79-57 on Thursday night. Junior center Elliott Eliason was all over the floor with his second double-double of the season.
Minnesota cruied early against Wofford, leading by as much as 22 in the first six minutes of the game. The Golden Gophers were deadly shooting the ball from all over the court, making over 70 percent of their field goals in the first half — including 6-for-11 from three.
Senior guard Austin Hollins would lead the way scoring for the Maroon and Gold on the night with 18 points but Eliason was the story of the game as the Chadron, Neb. native set a career highs in blocks on his way to 11 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks.
“Oto (Osenieks) and Elliott were tremendous,” head coach Richard Pitino said after the game. “Elliott continues to grow, continues to get better.”
The 6-foot-11 Eliason was second on the team in minutes played with 32 on the night — just behind point guard Andre Hollins. Without big men like Mo Walker (suspension) and Joey King (injury), Minnesota needed players like Eliason and Osenieks to provide a physical force in the paint. The Latvian junior Osenieks had a career high 14 points in the game to go with five rebounds.
Leading the way for Wofford was junior forward Lee Skinner, who mixed in 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Terriers.
Minnesota will now move on to the Maui Invitational to play three games in three days beginning Monday. The Gophers will face off against Syracuse to begin the tournament at 4:30 p.m. CT. It’ll be a test to gauge where this Gophers team stands on the national stage against Jim Boeheim’s Orange squad.
“That’s a great team year in and year out,” Eliason said in regards to taking on Syracuse next. “It’s always good to be able to measure yourself against somebody like that.”