Minnesota's Grier returns early from broken finger

MINNEAPOLIS -- All-American candidate Vincent Grier made an earlier-than-expected return to the court Saturday, starting Minnesota's game against UNLV less than a month after breaking a finger in the Gophers' season opener.

The senior forward had been expected to miss four to six weeks after breaking a bone in his left ring finger Nov. 18 against North Dakota State. On Nov. 21, coach Dan Monson said he hoped Grier would be able to get some playing time before the Big Ten opener Jan. 7 against Northwestern. On Friday, Monson said Grier was doubtful to play against the Runnin' Rebels.

But he took the floor for warmups on Saturday and received a loud ovation when introduced in the starting lineup.

Grier was an All-Big Ten selection last year, scoring 17.9 points per game.