MINNEAPOLIS — Gabe Kalscheur scored 23 points, and Daniel Oturu added 21 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for Minnesota in a 89-62 win against Florida International on Saturday.
Kalscheur kept up his strong play as the Gophers won their third straight game. Kalscheur had a career-high 34 points in a win against Oklahoma State in the previous game. Marcus Carr, who had 35 points two games prior in a win against then No. 3-ranked Ohio State, chipped in with 17 points for Minnesota.
Devon Andrews had 14 points to lead FIU after scoring just three in the first half due to foul trouble. Osasumwen Osaghae, who started the game leading the nation in blocks, had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Panthers, who had their six-game winning streak snapped.
After a one-week break for the holidays, the Gophers struggled early against FIU’s length and shot-blocking. The Panthers led by as many as six early before Kalscheur found his shooting touch.
With Kalscheur on the outside and Oturu inside, the two sophomores pushed Minnesota ahead with a 14-0 run for a 25-17 lead. Kalscheur scored 17 of the Gophers’ first 32 points. He finished 5 of 10 from beyond the 3-point line.
Carr had 13 of his points in the second half as Minnesota led by as many as 29. The Gophers outrebounded FIU 52-36 and were 29 of 30 from the free throw line.
Florida International: The Panthers lost their final big test before starting conference play. The defense held up early but Minnesota started to find its shots. FIU’s offense was the real issue as the Panthers shot 33% in the first half and 36% for the game. FIU also had 17 turnovers. All four losses this season for the Panthers have been on the road.
Minnesota: The Gophers avoided the letdown after the two big wins against Ohio State and Oklahoma State and the ensuing break. Minnesota has certainly been tested this season, an aspect that should serve it well in the Big Ten. Through the games on Dec. 25, the Gophers had the fifth-toughest schedule in Division I as opponents held a 71.5% winning percentage.
FIU begins play in Conference USA at home against UTEP on Thursday. The Panthers were picked ninth in the conference by coaches in the preseason poll. UTEP was tied for fourth.
The bulk of Minnesota’s conference schedule lies ahead, starting at Purdue on Thursday. The Gophers and Boilermakers are both 1-1 so far in Big Ten action.