Star Jordan Murphy Arrives

Murphy had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Gophers forward Jordan Murphy handles the ball around the Clemson Tigers in Williams Arena on Monday night.

Elizabeth Brumley

Gophers forward Jordan Murphy handles the ball around the Clemson Tigers in William’s Arena on Monday night.

Ryan Falk

The Williams Arena crowd was loud as it watched a freshman grow right before its eyes.

 

Dunks, three-pointers and blocks highlighted a performance from freshman forward Jordan Murphy that gave fans plenty to cheer about Monday night. He notched a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Gophers won 89-83 over Clemson.

 

“[Murphy] was the best player on the court,” head coach Richard Pitino said.

 

Pitino sometimes calls the freshman “high or low motor Murph,” depending upon how hard he plays.

 

After tonight only one of those nicknames might stick.

 

Murphy went 9-16 from the floor in the game, leading the Gophers (5-2) in both points and rebounds.

 

Sophomore guard Nate Mason had 17 points and eight assists for Minnesota, while redshirt junior forward Charles Buggs had 15 points.

 

Senior forward Joey King added 17 points for the Gophers and finished the game by giving Murphy some advice.

 

“He told me I better play like that all the time now,” Murphy said. “Games like that, you end up having big expectations for every game.”

 

Both teams rarely missed in the first half of the game, with the Tigers shooting 54.8 percent and the Gophers shooting 55.6 percent.

 

Clemson was better from the three-point line, however, and held a 42-36 lead at halftime.

 

Murphy had 12 of his points in the first half, including a put-back dunk that energized the crowd.

 

Redshirt junior forward Jaron Blossomgame matched Murphy in the first half with 12 points, making two of his three shots from three-point range.

 

Minnesota started the game with a smaller lineup, with 6-foot 4-inch freshman Dupree McBrayer staring at the small forward spot Buggs.

 

This smaller lineup struggled to rebound, something the team as a whole was struggled to do consistently this season, losing on the boards 16-11 in the first half.

 

Minnesota came into the second half energized and went on a 10-4 run to tie the game at 46-46. Buggs and King both had three-pointers to help get their offense started.

 

Clemson continued to shoot well in the game, but Murphy came off the bench and kept the Gophers ahead.

 

Murphy added 12 more points in the second half and had a big tip into the basket as the game wound down.

 

The Gophers turned around their rebounding in the second half with Murphy leading the way, grabbing 20 while Clemson had nine.

 

“I think [winning the rebounding battle] speaks to our potential of being a good rebounding team,” Murphy said.

 

The Gophers closed out the game with free throws, including four from freshman guard Kevin Dorsey.

 

But it was another freshman who carried the team Monday night and may have shed a nickname in the process.

I’m going stop using that he had a big time game,” King said. “So I’m just going to have him keep working hard. I’ll always be that guy in his ear, but I’m just really happy for him.” \