Murphy providing a spark as a freshman

The Texas native was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday.

Freshman forward guard Jordan Murphy watches the Gophers play against South Dakota State in Williams Arena on Tuesday night.

Elizabeth Brumley

Freshman forward guard Jordan Murphy watches the Gophers play against South Dakota State in Williams Arena on Tuesday night.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers have found themselves in a rut in the nonconference schedule, but Jordan Murphy has been one bright spot for the team so far.
 
The rookie was Minnesota’s best offensive threat and rebounder this past week, only nine games into his college career. He had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Gophers victory over Clemson last Tuesday and added 19 points and 17 rebounds in a double overtime loss to South Dakota on Saturday.
 
“[Murphy is] a good player,” head coach Richard Pitino said following the team’s loss to South Dakota. “You saw him make a lot of effort plays. Seventeen rebounds as a freshman is pretty good.”
 
Murphy was named the Big Ten freshman of the week on Monday after back-to-back double-double performances.
 
“[After] games like that, you end up having big expectations for every game,” Murphy said.
 
Murphy leads the entire team in rebounds, with 7.3 per game, and he is the highest scorer among the team’s freshmen, with 10 points per game.
 
He’s made an immediate impact on the team’s frontcourt, but the Gophers were almost unable to bring him into the fold.
 
Murphy originally committed to Virginia Commonwealth but reopened his recruitment when head coach Shaka Smart left to become the head coach at Texas. Minnesota jumped in and the school announced Murphy’s signing on May 20
 
The forward has made an impact right away despite being a late pick-up.
 
“He’s a really unique kid,” Pitino said. “I said when we brought him in that he could be one of those face of the program-type guys.”
 
Murphy has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, starting with a 14-point performance against the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
 
Before then, Murphy was given an unflattering nickname from his head coach. Pitino said he took to calling him “high- or low-motor Murph,” depending on what the
freshman’s energy level was like. Murphy did his best to shrug off the name with his performance against Clemson.
 
“Coach [Pitino] told us something about what he could be if he rebounds or has a high motor,” freshman guard Kevin Dorsey said. “Coach preaches to him to always have a high motor.” 
 
Murphy brought energy again facing South Dakota, sending the game into overtime with a last second tip-in. Rookie mistakes still cropped up, though, and he fouled out in the second overtime. The Gophers went on to lose the game 85-81.
 
He had six points and six rebounds on Tuesday against South Dakota State and struggled along with the rest of the team.
 
The Gophers have still seen plenty of “high-motor Murph” this season, as the second-to-last addition to the team’s recruiting class has made one of the biggest impacts so far.