Minnesota played a major-conference team for the second consecutive game and the Gophers came out undefeated once again.
The Gophers (5-0) defeated Arkansas by a final score of 85-71 in its fifth consecutive double-digit victory Tuesday at the Williams Arena.
“They should be confident,” said head coach Richard Pitino. “They’ve worked hard, they’ve stayed humble throughout. Tough offseason and just been eager to get back to improving themselves on and off the court.”
Guard Amir Coffey was the team’s leading scorer for the second game in a row. Coffey scored 19 points, all in the second half.
“First half we knew [Coffey] was struggling, everyone knew he was struggling,” said guard Nate Mason. “Everyone kept going to him and encouraging him. ‘Keep going, keep being aggressive.’
Mason led the team in assists with seven. He also added 13 points.
Forward Eric Curry led the team in bench points with 12. He also went 8-8 from the free-throw line.
Guard Akeem Springs scored 11 points off the bench. Springs was 3-6 from 3-point range.
“You always want to be ready to step up,” Springs said. “Everybody on our team I think is ready to step in.”
The Gophers won the turnover battle 21-14.
Pitino said the team was fundamentally pretty sound.
“We didn’t press, we weren’t trapping or anything like that,” Pitino said. “I just thought it was they drove baseline, we cut them off. We were ready to rotate.”
Arkansas’s biggest lead of the game was six pointsto Minnesota’s 22-point lead. The team shot 42.6 percent from the floor to Minnesota’s 51.8 percent.
Opponents of the Gophers have shot 34.7 percent from 3-point range on the year, which ranks them No. 207 in the country.
Minnesota held Arkansas to 12.5 percent with the Razorbacks going 1-8 from beyond the arc.
“That has not been a strength of ours, so we really addressed it,” Pitino said. “We, from a scouting report standpoint, did a really good job of getting out on those guys.”
Minnesota was out-rebounded for the second consecutive game. The Razorbacks had 38 rebounds to the Gophers’ 30.
Center Reggie Lynch had 10 points in the first half of the game. He ended up only playing four minutes in the second half because of an injury.
“He did a good job,” Pitino said. “He would’ve played more but he sprained his ankle so he was hobbling that second half.”
Guard Dupree McBrayer came in averaging 14.8 points per game. McBrayer scored three points this game and only shot the ball three times.
There were six double-digit scorers for the Gophers. The team also had 17 assists while Arkansas only had eight.
“It’s been good ball movement, it’s been good patience offensively,” Pitino said.
Guard Dusty Hannahs had 20 points against the Gophers. However, he only attempted two three-point shots.
“Hannahs is one of the best three-point shooters in the country,” Pitino said. “We did a really good job on him.”
The Gophers play Southern Illinois (3-2) in their next game on Nov. 25.
Pitino said the team is totally different than it was last year.
“I’ll say it a billion times,” Pitino said. “Five new guys on a roster of 13, it’s gonna be significantly different. It’s such a much more complete team.”