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NU hoops visits No. 14/15 Minnesota Wednesday


Coming off of a season-opening win at Little 3 rival St. Bonaventure, the Niagara Purple Eagles continue their four-game road journey at nationally-ranked Minnesota on Wednesday.
Scene Setter
•  The Purple Eagles and Golden Gophers will meet for the third time and first since the 1973-74 season with Niagara coming away with a 79-65 victory.
•  Niagara will play its first ranked opponent since playing at No. 22 Notre Dame on Dec. 21, 2012 (L, 89-67).
•  No. 14/15 Minnesota will be Niagara's highest ranked team since playing No. 2 Kansas in the 2007 NCAA Tournament (L, 107-67) and its highest ranked team during the regular season since playing at No. 15 Syracuse on Dec. 30, 2000 (L, 92-59).
•  Niagara is 12-78 all-time against ranked opponents with the last victory coming with an upset of fourth-ranked St. John's, 62-59, on Dec. 15, 1984 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.
•  This will be the second straight season the Purple Eagles will play against an B1G opponent (Rutgers).
Tipoff Tidbits
•  The Purple Eagles halted a six-game losing streak to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, who were picked second in the A-10 Preseason Poll, in their season opener on Nov. 10.
•  The win was Niagara's first season-opening win since defeating Central Connecticut State to start the 2011-12 season.
•  The tri-captains – Kahlil Dukes, Matt Scott, Marvin Prochet - helped push Niagara to the season-opening win at St. Bonaventure. Dukes scored a team-high 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the field. He connected on a game-high six 3-pointers, which are one shy of tying a career-high and are the most in the MAAC. Scott scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had a game-high four assists. Prochet scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.
•  Niagara welcomes back 87 percent of its scoring and 82 percent of minutes played.
•  The Purple Eagles return seven letterwinners from last season, including the entire starting five – Matt Scott, Kahlil Dukes, Chris Barton, Marvin Prochet and Dominic Robb.
Preseason Praise For Purple Eagles 
•  "No team in the MAAC is more poised to leap from average to great than the Purple Eagles, who return their entire starting lineup." – Brian Lester, Lindy's Sports
•  "Seniors Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott are going to take the Purple Eagles to the top three of the MAAC." – Matt Norlander, CBS Sports
•  "…the Purple Eagles' possible return to contention has been a key offseason storyline." – Athlon Sports
•  "…things are looking much better for the Purple Eagles with the return of their top six scorers, an incoming transfer and a strong recruiting class." – Steve Amedio, Troy (N.Y.) Record, Street and Smith
On The Court
No. 14/15 Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
•  Minnesota is 2-0 with wins over USC Upstate and Providence.
•  Minnesota started the season ranked 15th in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll. Minnesota moved to 14th in the AP Top 25 Poll released on November 13. 
•  The Golden Gophers return all five starters from last season's team that went 24-13 and earning an NCAA Tournament berth.  Four Gophers earned 2016-17 Big Ten accolades - Nate Mason (First Team), Reggie Lynch (Defensive Player of the Year), Jordan Murphy (Third Team), and Amir Coffey (Freshman Team). 
•  Guards Amir Coffey and Nate Mason were both named to the 2017-18 Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
•  Jordan Murphy was named B1G Player of the Week with career-highs in five categories against USC Upstate.
Against the Golden Gophers (Tied 1-1)
•  The Purple Eagles and the Golden Gophers have met twice in their history with both meetings occuring in the early 1970s with Frank Layden leading the program.
•  The home team has won both meetings. Niagara fell at Minnesota, 92-87, on Jan. 5, 1971, and won 79-65 on Dec. 19, 1973.