MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Amir Coffey scored 29 points to lead a balanced scoring attack as Minnesota defeated Rutgers 88-70 on Saturday afternoon.
Jordan Murphy scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Dupree McBrayer scored 15 points and added 10 assists, and freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 11 points for Minnesota (13-3, 3-2 Big Ten).
Myles Johnson scored a career-high 13 and Geo Baker also scored 13 points for the Scarlet Knights (8-7, 1-4), who were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder, Eugene Omoruyi, who was out with a knee injury.
After scoring just eight points in the first half, Coffey exploded for nine in the first six minutes of the second half. He finished the day 10-for-14 from the field – including 9-for-10 from inside the 3-point line – and made 8 of 10 free throws.
But Rutgers stayed in the game thanks in large part to the play of their big men. Johnson, a 6-foot-10 freshman, and 6-9 Shaq Carter went toe-to-toe with Murphy, the nation’s second-leading rebounder at 12.0 boards per game. Johnson pulled down eight rebounds while Carter added eight points and six boards, part of the 40 points Rutgers scored in the paint.
The Scarlet Knights cut Minnesota’s lead to five points at multiple points in the second half but the Gophers finally pulled away with a 14-1 run that started when backup guard Isaiah Washington banked in a 3-pointer.
Minnesota’s defense then set up a number of fast-break opportunities that the Gophers cashed in on the other end. Coffey went coast-to-coast for two dunks and drew a foul on a third fast break. Washington also made a layup in transition and later drained another 3-pointer as the Gophers built their lead to 77-57.
McBrayer went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the first half to lead all scorers with 12 points as Minnesota led 39-32 at the break.
Rugters: The Scarlet Knights had a tough task in trying to build off the momentum of their upset victory over Ohio State on Wednesday. Omoruyi dislocated his left kneecap in that game, and his productivity and veteran presence were missed on Saturday. To make matters worse, the Scarlet Knights also lost freshman guard Caleb McConnell to an apparent leg injury in the first half.
Minnesota: The Gophers were looking to improve on their dismal showing at the line in their loss to Maryland on Tuesday, when they made just 9 of 23 free throws. On Saturday they went 20-for-25 to at least temporarily put those concerns to rest. Meanwhile, Murphy passed Draymond Green to become the fourth-leading rebounder in Big Ten history.
Rutgers: at Purdue on Tuesday
Minnesota: at Illinois on Wednesday
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