Matched against the nation’s top shot-blocker, sophomore center Daniel Oturu piled up 21 points and a career-high 20 rebounds to spark Minnesota to an 89-62 victory over FIU on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Sophomore guard Gabe Kalscheur contributed 23 points and five steals, and junior point guard Marcus Carr added 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Gophers (7-5) won their third in a row. Oturu was 8 of 12 from the field and pulled down six offensive boards.
FIU (9-4) had its six-game winning streak end despite 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from senior center Osasumwen Osaghae, who entered the game leading the nation with 4.58 blocks per game. Senior forward Devon Andrews added 14 points, and sophomore guard Antonio Daye Jr. posted 12 points with five steals.
The Panthers’ up-tempo attack paid dividends early as they rode a 12-2 burst to a 14-8 lead. Senior guard Trejon Jacob delivered the big plays during the run as he fed Osaghae for a resounding two-hand slam and drilled a 3-pointer from the wing.
But as Minnesota started forcing FIU’s freewheeling offense into turnovers and low-percentage shots, the Gophers pieced together a defining 14-0 run.
Kalscheur drilled two 3-pointers and rolled in a fast-break layup, while Carr fed sophomore Jarvis Omersa for an undefended dunk and graduate transfer forward Alihan Demir converted an easy putback to give the Gophers a 25-16 lead with 5:38 left in the first.
When Oturu tipped home Carr’s missed layup with 2:52 left in the half, the Gophers took a 36-21 lead and Oturu wrapped up his seventh double-double of the year.
Minnesota held a 38-27 lead at the break as Kalscheur had 17 points while Oturu owned 11 points and 12 rebounds. Minnesota gradually pulled away in the second half, as Carr repeatedly dissected FIU’s pressure defense to set up drives to the hoop for himself and easy shots for others.
FIU’s Jacob rolled an ankle in the waning minutes of the first half and sat for most of the second half.
Minnesota junior shooting guard Payton Willis, who averages 11.0 points per game, missed his second consecutive contest with an ankle injury.
—Field Level Media