Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023

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Minnesota will go for back-to-back victories when it hosts Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.

The Golden Gophers (6-3) are coming off a 76-65 win on their home court against Nebraska. They trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half and stormed back by outscoring the Cornhuskers 52-26 in the second half.

The comeback win came with a cost. Dawson Garcia, Minnesota’s top scorer at 18.2 points per game, injured his right ankle during the game and is not expected to play against Florida Gulf Coast.

Golden Gophers coach Ben Johnson said Garcia’s injury was not a high-ankle sprain, which typically requires a player to miss more action.

“Now, it’s just a matter of time and how quickly he can heal from it,” Johnson said. “This is a straight ankle sprain. Thank goodness there was nothing else going on. He rolled it pretty good. Thankfully it’s not a high ankle because those take a long time.”

Garcia’s absence could mean more playing time for Pharrel Payne. He scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots against Nebraska.

“There’s going to be some days off here with Christmas break,” Johnson said. “So if there was ever a time to have (an injury), then have it be now. I told guys, everybody wants to play, so what are you going to do with your opportunity now?”

The next opportunity will come against Florida Gulf Coast (3-7), which has yet to begin its conference season in the Atlantic Sun. The Eagles have struggled but are coming off an 87-54 win over New College of Florida on Tuesday night.

Keeshawn Kellman scored 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting for Florida Gulf Coast. Teammate Dallion Johnson scored 17 points, thanks in large part to five 3-pointers.

“I was more proud of our defense,” Eagles coach Pat Chambers said. “I think our defense and rebounding hasn’t been where it needs to be at this stage in the season, and we still have time to correct it before (conference play).”

–Field Level Media

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