SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Mustangs tip off against Gophers

MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State closes out its exhibition schedule at the University of Minnesota tonight.

It is the third-ever meeting between the two schools. The Gophers and Mustangs last faced each other Nov. 6, 2007, which Minnesota won 88-52. Minnesota also defeated SMSU 59-50 in 2005.

Last year, the Mustangs faced former Mustang coach Tim Miles and the Nebraska Cornhuskers in exhibition action. Senior guard Shaun Condon missed that game due to injury, but is looking forward to another test against a Big Ten opponent.

“I was kind of bummed last year that I didn’t get to play Nebraska, but once we found out we were playing Minnesota I was pretty excited about that,” said Condon. “I’ve been a Gophers fan forever, so it’ll be fun.”

It’ll be more than fun and games for a Mustang team that’s looking to rebound from a 12-17 record a season ago.

“We’re going down there to compete,” Condon added. “We’re not just going down there to have fun. It’ll be a good experience, but the main focus is doing what we can do and going in there trying to win.”

SMSU has a young team this season. Condon is the lone senior on the squad. On the other end of the spectrum, Dawson-Boyd graduate Michael Lee will play as a true freshman and as many as five redshirt freshmen could see playing time for the Mustangs.

Despite the young squad, the big stage isn’t a concern for SMSU coach Brad Bigler.

“Most of these guys experienced the Husker game last year, whether they played or were on the bench,” Bigler said. “With the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) stuff nowadays and playing big names all summer long, I don’t know if they get as wide-eyed any more. Also, remember that a few of these guys have played in state tournaments and played in Williams (Arena) before, so I expect them to handle themselves in the appropriate way.”

Opening tip from Williams Arena is set for 7 p.m. The Mustangs open the regular season portion of their schedule on Nov. 14 at the Fort Hays State Classic in Kansas.

“(Tonight)’s an opportunity for us to keep moving in the right direction,” Bigler added. “We look forward to this experience and this challenge.”

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