January 12, 2018 05:53 PM
University of Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino said he wants to keep his team's focus on the fifth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers, who visit Williams Arena on Saturday.
"Obviously tomorrow's a big one," Pitino said Friday during brief news conference with reporters. "Terrific Purdue team."
It will be the third straight game without star player Reggie Lynch, who is facing sexual assault allegations. Pitino says he's not second-guessing a decision to allow Lynch to play for most of this season so far, while being investigated for two cases of alleged sexual misconduct.
"As I said before, when a difficult situation like this arises, you go to your university officials and you just follow your process and the policies," Pitino said. "I'm very comfortable we did that."
Lynch was found "responsible" in the two cases and the University's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) recommended expulsion. Lynch has a right to appeal and has done so. He's been suspended from game competition, but continues to practice with the team.
His teammates said they're trying to keep the distractions to a minimum.
"Circumstances are not in our favor right now," Nate Mason said. "But if we keep pushing we have still have a good chance of making the tournament."
Jordan Murphy says there's no doubt the team misses Lynch on the court as one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten.
"We just gotta keep playing," Murphy said. "Life's gotta go on. Things may not be in our favor right now with what's happened lately, but we just gotta keep moving."
Lynch does not face any criminal charges in the cases. Although he has appealed the EOAA rulings, no hearing date has been set.
Updated: January 12, 2018 05:53 PM
Created: January 12, 2018 04:29 PM
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