Gophers Cruise to Fourth Straight Win in Men’s Hoops
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jordan Murphy had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 14 Minnesota cruised past Western Carolina 92-64 on Sunday.
Five Gophers scored in double figures, and coach Richard Pitino leaned heavily on his bench as Minnesota (4-0) played the first of a four-game stretch this week. Amir Coffey had 15 points, Dupree McBrayer scored 14, Nate Mason had 13 and Isaiah Washington scored 10.
Freshman Matt Halvorsen hit 5 of 7 3-pointers and led the Catamounts (1-3) with 17 points. Deriece Parks added 11 points.
Murphy posted his fourth straight double-double to start the season, and he carried Minnesota offensively for much of the second half as Mason and center Reggie Lynch were limited by foul trouble. Murphy had 15 points and 9 rebounds after the break as the Gophers pulled away after leading 42-33 at halftime.
Mason picked up his fourth foul early in the second half with the Gophers protecting a five-point lead. Pitino turned the offense over to Washington, and the prized recruit from New York kept things running smoothly. He scored six points and didn't turn the ball over, and by the time he came out with just over 8 minutes to play, the Gophers led by 20.
Halvorsen hit three 3-pointers in the game's first three minutes, but Minnesota used balanced scoring to build an early 21-12 lead.
The Catamounts later cut Minnesota's lead to 32-30 thanks to a backdoor layup and a 3-pointer by Parks. But Minnesota answered with an 8-1 run that included a thunderous dunk by Coffey on a fast-break give-and-go with McBrayer.
Western Carolina: The Catamounts lost at Clemson by 28 points and were drubbed by 51 at Cincinnati, so this 28-point defeat wasn't unexpected. They'll be back playing fellow mid-major opponents soon, and that should provide a better idea of how the team measures up to its peers.
Minnesota: One game after allowing Niagara to hit 6 of 9 from beyond the arc to start the game, the Gophers let Western Carolina hang around by letting the Catamounts hit 7 of their first 9 3-pointers. That's not going to play in the Big Ten.
Western Carolina: Plays at Massachusetts on Tuesday night.
Minnesota: Hosts Alabama A&M on Tuesday night before heading to New York for the Barclays Center Classic. The Gophers will face UMass on Friday and Alabama on Saturday.