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Minnesota eyes fourth straight win, hosts Ball State

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Minnesota will go for its fourth win in a row when it hosts Ball State on Thursday night in a nonconference matchup in Minneapolis.

The Golden Gophers (8-3) are coming off a 101-65 win against IUPUI in their most recent contest Tuesday night. Elijah Hawkins set a school record with 17 assists in the victory, which followed wins over Nebraska and Florida Gulf Coast.

Minnesota poured in 57 points in the first half and finished 14-for-28 from beyond the arc. It was the second time the Golden Gophers topped 100 points this season and the fifth time they scored at least 80 points.

“(Hawkins) is really playing at a good pace right now,” Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said. “I thought his start and his mindset running the show early got us in the best mindset.

“And it becomes contagious. I think that is a big reason why we had 31 assists as a team. Obviously, guys have to make shots, but the ball was moving and guys were trying to play the right way.”

The Golden Gophers now face Ball State (8-3) of the Mid American Conference, which is looking to bounce back from an 83-72 loss against Indiana State on Saturday. Jalin Anderson led the Cardinals with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals.

Anderson ranks second on the team with 15.4 points per game this season. Ball State’s leading scorer is Basheer Jihad, who is averaging 18.5 points to go along with a team-high 7.3 rebounds.

Ball State coach Michael Lewis said Jihad has taken on a leadership role this season.

“He’s playing with a ton of confidence,” Lewis said. “That’s nothing that I can give him. That confidence comes from the work that he’s put in.”

Minnesota will remain without Braeden Carrington, who will miss his second game since stepping away from the team to focus on his mental health. Carrington’s decision to acknowledge his mental health struggles has drawn praise from inside and outside the team.

“Hopefully that gives courage to some other folks,” Johnson said.

–Field Level Media

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