Gophers survive at Williams

Minnesota was challenged all night by a young South Dakota State squad

It was anything but a work of art, but chalk up another victory for the Minnesota men’s basketball team.

Despite being outrebounded by a disconcerting 41-26 margin, the Gophers won their fourth-straight game Wednesday night, beating South Dakota State 78-71 at Williams Arena.

Senior forward Dan Coleman led Minnesota with 24 points. Jackrabbits guard Garrett Callahan had a game-high 28 points in 39 minutes of action.

“We were very fortunate to beat a good South Dakota State team. They came ready to play,” Gophers coach Tubby Smith said.

It wasn’t hard to find the statistic that made that kept SDSU (3-6 overall, 0-0 Summit), which lost to Minnesota 77-53 last year at “The Barn” in the game for 40 minutes.

The Gophers shot 56.2 percent from the field, but allowed SDSU into the game until the final seconds largely due to their inability to take care of the glass.

Minnesota gave up 19 offensive rebounds to the undersized Jackrabbits – leading to 16 points.

From the tip, the Jackrabbits, showed they would be anything but intimidated by facing a Big Ten opponent on their home court.

SDSU jumped on the Gophers early, leading by as many as nine in the first 20 minutes of action by attacking the Gophers defense with a solid inside-out game.

Minnesota used a 16-3 run to take a 35-31 and it appeared the Gophers (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) would be able to separate themselves further from the Jackrabbits.

That assumption proved false, though, as SDSU scrapped and clawed its way to its first second half lead at 66-65.

But the Jackrabbits couldn’t finish.

Senior center Spencer Tollackson’s jump shot with 5:25 remaining put the Gophers back ahead 68-66 and Minnesota used the energy provided by the Williams Arena faithful to pullout yet another win.

After a 10-day layoff, the Gophers return to action on Dec. 22 when they play host to Santa Clara at Williams Arena.

Smith said his team won’t forget tonight’s lackluster performance during their long layoff.

“They won’t forgetÖthey won’t forget this one,” Smith said.