Kendal Shell wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen.
He came to the University of Minnesota as a preferred walk-on. His father, William Shell, said then-head coach Tubby Smith saw Shell play at a high school tournament and told him he’d have a chance to earn a scholarship after his sophomore year.
But a day after the end of Shell’s second season with the Gophers, Smith was fired, and Richard Pitino was named the Gophers’ new head coach.
Center Elliott Eliason has developed into a force down low.
The Gophers let a chance for a signature win slip out of their grasp late Saturday in their loss to Michigan State.
They weren’t about to let that happen again.
Minnesota rode a big performance from junior center Elliott Eliason and used some crucial plays down the stretch to pull away late en route to a 63-53 win over No. 11 Ohio State at Williams Arena on Thursday night.
Elliott Eliason led the Gophers with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
DeAndre Mathieu's driving layup with seconds remaining tied the game at 71-71 and sent the game into overtime, but the Gophers ultimately fell to No. 5 Michigan State 87-75 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans dominated the five minutes of extra time outscoring Minnesota 16-4 in front of their home crowd.
The Gophers dropped to 13-4 on the season and to 2-2 in the Big Ten with the loss. Michigan State played the game without senior center Adrien Payne, but managed to improve to 15-1 and move its conference record to 4-0.
The Spartans outscored Minnesota 16-4 in the overtime session.
Richard Pitino has never faced Michigan State as a head coach, but he’s pretty familiar with the players on the squad.
Two years ago, the Gophers head coach was an assistant at Louisville constantly on the recruiting trail. That’s where Pitino caught wind of Gary Harris, a 6-foot-5-foot guard out of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indiana.
“[Pitino] recruited me when he was at Louisville,” Harris said. “I’m happy for him, he’s going to have his team ready.”
Richard Pitino recruited Spartans star Gary Harris while at Louisville.