On Jan. 16, the Gophers men’s basketball team was 11-4 with victories over Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan — teams all ranked in the top 10 of this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Things have taken a considerable turn, and the Gophers headed for Penn State on Tuesday wondering whether head coach Richard Pitino might be coaching his last few games in Minnesota.

“I’ve dealt with it before and gotten through it,” Pitino said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, let’s go get Penn State. It ain’t over till it’s over. So, that’s really the message.”

Since handing No. 2 Michigan (18-1) its only loss, the Gophers (13-12 overall, 6-12 Big Ten) have lost eight of 10 games. Once a solid NCAA tournament team, they are fighting just to get back on the bubble.

That starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday against the Nittany Lions in University Park, Pa. After that, the Gophers finish the regular season against Rutgers at 11 a.m. Saturday at Williams Arena and will open the Big Ten tournament on March 10.

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Speaking Tuesday morning on WCCO 830-AM, athletics director Mark Coyle said he had not made a decision on Pitino’s future.

“I don’t talk about our coaches until the seasons are over,” he told WCCO’s Dave Lee. “I think you have to look at the entire body of work in the season, and we have two games left.”

The Gophers have been hit by injuries to starters Liam Robbins (ankle) and Gabe Kalscheur (hand), but their past two losses were to Northwestern and Nebraska, two of the three teams below them in the Big Ten Conference standings. Penn State (8-13, 5-12) is the other.

Pitino said he believes Coyle is in his corner.

“I talk to Mark every day,” he said. “I believe Mark wants me to beat Penn State. I believe Mark wants me to beat Rutgers. I believe Mark wants me to win every game in the Big Ten tournament. That’s what I believe.

“He’s always been supportive. You understand that your boss has got to make tough decisions. And you’ve got to respect that. But I know he’s pulling for me.”

An NCAA tournament bid might be the only thing to save Pitino’s job; otherwise it will be just another ultimately disappointing season, despite five wins over Top 25 teams. Pitino has taken two Minnesota teams to the tournament, winning one first-round game (2018-19). His teams have finished over .500 in the Big Ten only once and have a combined 54-93 record in conference games.

Overall, his Minnesota teams are 158-134.

Pitino has survived similar situations, most notably after going 8-23 in 2015-16, his third season as Gophers coach. But recently ousted athletics director Norwood Teague had just extended his contract through 2021, and Pitino’s buyout stood at $5.7 million.

That buyout sits at $1.75 million if Pitino is fired before April 30. If he stays, he’ll be owed a $400,000 retention bonus.

“There’s many factors that play into any type of decision you make with regard to personnel,” Coyle told WCCO.

Pitino said he believes wins in the final two regular-season games, plus a couple in the Big Ten tournament, might do it. But the Gophers have lost five straight games; that includes a blowout loss to No. 4 Illinois; the other four were to teams with a combined 23-46 record in conference play.

So, the Gophers need a push.

Getting Robbins back would probably help. Pitino said the center didn’t practice on Monday but will be a game-time decision on Wednesday. Kalscheur, who has missed four games since breaking a finger on his shooting hand in a loss at Maryland, will not play. In addition, Pitino said, swingman Both Gach is playing through a painful foot injury.

“This team’s had great moments when healthy, and we’re going to go lock in on trying to beat Penn State and see if we can get Liam back and see if we can get Gabe back,” the coach said. “And that’s really the focus. I don’t really think about a whole lot more than that. Maybe (my job) pops up in my mind and I tell it to go away and I just think about today, you know?”