Gophers Ready For Season Opener
Minneapolis, MN (GopherSports.com) – The Minnesota men's basketball team closed out the exhibition portion of its schedule Friday evening, defeating Southwest Minnesota State, 81-64, at Williams Arena.
Joey King fueled an early 13-6 lead for the Gophers by connecting on his first four three-point attempts. King had 14 of Minnesota's first 18 points in the opening 6:56 of the game, and a breakaway layup from Carlos Morris gave Minnesota a double-digit lead, 20-10, at the 12:33 mark.
SMSU responded with an 11-0 run, keyed by back-to-back three-pointers from Shaun Condon and a third trey by Turner Moen, to take a brief 21-20 lead.
Morris answered with two jumpers and a pair of free throws to put Minnesota back in front, 26-21, initiating a 15-6 run by the Gophers. Nate Mason and Morris provided the majority of the offense for Minnesota over the final six minutes of the opening half, as the Gophers went to the locker room with a 43-35 lead.
Morris led all scorers at the break with 15 points, while King had 14 and Mason added seven points, five rebounds and five assists. Ryan Bruggeman and Mitch Weg each had eight first-half points for SMSU.
The Mustangs opened the second half on an 8-4 run, including three-pointers by Joey Bartlett and Taylor Schafer, to cut Minnesota's advantage to 47-43. However, Jordan Murphy scored the next five points to put Minnesota up nine, 52-43.
The Gophers stretched the lead to 18 points, 65-47, with 8:28 remaining. King added another trifecta during the run, as did Ahmad Gilbert, and Minnesota maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the game.
Morris led all players with 23 points, making 7-of-9 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws. King finished the game with 17 points on 5-of-7 treys, while Mason had 14 points and led the Gophers with seven rebounds and seven assists. Murphy finished with eight points and four boards, and Gilbert had six points and three rebounds in the win.
Weg paced the Mustangs with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while Joey Bartlett also had 12 points. Bruggeman and Schafer each added 11 points for SMSU.
Minnesota now turns its attention to its season-opener next Friday, Nov. 13, when it plays host to UMKC as part of a doubleheader with Minnesota's women's team. Head coach Marlene Stollings' Gophers face Wofford at 5:30 p.m., with Richard Pitino's men's team tipping off at 8:00 p.m.