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Gophers’ Dupree McBrayer injured; prized freshman Isaiah Washington gets first college start

November 30, 2017

Junior guard Dupree McBrayer didn’t attend Wednesday’s game against No. 10 Miami (Fla.) after suffering a right leg infection, according to Gophers coach Richard Pitino.

McBrayer, who started the first seven games of the season, was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Isaiah Washington, who got his first collegiate start. It’s possible Washington could start again Sunday in the Big Ten opener against Rutgers at home.

Pitino said after Minnesota’s 86-81 loss to Miami that the timetable of McBrayer’s return is uncertain.

“We have to get healthy and see where Dupree’s at on Friday,” Pitino said. “He’s got an infection in his leg. We’re really just getting him some medicine and everything like that. So it’s kind of a day-by-day thing. We don’t really know.”

In the offseason, McBrayer missed a few months of practice because of a stress reaction in his left leg, which is a precursor to a fracture. But the Queens, N.Y., native was able to recover before the season and average 9.3 points, 3.6 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 24.1 minutes.

An injury to one of their best shooters hurt the Gophers last season when Akeem Springs was sidelined in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, but they were supposed to have more depth this season.

Washington, who scored 14 points on 6-for-17 shooting with five turnovers Wednesday, averaged 8.1 points and 3.0 assists in 20.3 minutes entering Wednesday’s game. Returning to his home state last week, the Harlem native was coming off a career-best 14 points on 7-for-15 shooting in 26 minutes Saturday in an 89-84 victory against Alabama.

The most hyped incoming Gophers basketball recruit in years, Washington said his goal was to be the starting point guard as a freshman. But Pitino told him he needed to get a better grasp of the offense and improve defensively.

Washington’s outside shooting is also a work in progress. He’s only 2-for-24 from three-point range in the first seven games, including 13 consecutive misses from beyond the arc after Wednesday.

“I told Isaiah you were put in a difficult position with Dupree out,” Pitino said. “It was a nationally televised game versus a terrific defensive team, a talented team. … All the other guys had days like you guys had.”

Century mark

Pitino was honored before the game by Minnesota athletics director Mark Coyle for winning his 100th game Saturday against Alabama. He’s one of six active Division I coaches who won 100 games in six seasons or fewer.