Coffey’s 30 points lift Minnesota to 92-86 win

The Gophers are now undefeated through four games this season.

Freshman guard Amir Coffey attempts to score at Williams Arena on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. The Gophers would win 92-86 against St. John's University.

Chris Dang

Freshman guard Amir Coffey attempts to score at Williams Arena on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. The Gophers would win 92-86 against St. John’s University.

Jack White

Amir Coffey proved Friday why he was such a highly touted recruit.

The freshman guard scored 30 points in 36 minutes to lead Minnesota (4-0) to a 92-86 victory over St. John’s University (2-1) at Williams Arena.

“[I’m] really happy for our guys,” said head coach Richard Pitino. “That’s a good team … Those guards are really, really good. They really crashed the glass hard.”

Pitino said he doesn’t usually allow freshmen to talk to the media after games, but he lifted the ban for Coffey Friday night.

“When you play like that, you got to change that rule,” Pitino said.

Coffey shot 9-14 from the field and went 11-12 from the free-throw line.

“I felt pretty good,” Coffey said. “Before the game, I had coaches telling me to ‘be aggressive and stay within the offense.’ Half of it really started on the defensive side, getting stops and rebounds.”

Minnesota went on an 8-0 run in the first half, with Coffey accounting for six of the points, including a dunk in transition.

“We were down, what, like 11? So something needed to happen,” Coffey said. “It wasn’t just me. It was a team effort.”

Yet, Coffey was not the game’s leading scorer.

St. John’s guard Marcus LoVett scored 31 points in 38 minutes.

“Not to take away from LoVett, but LoVett had 31 and he shot 27 times,” Pitino said. “Amir only shot 14 shots.”

Minnesota came in plus-11 in rebounding but was out-rebounded by St. John’s 54-41.

The Red Storm led by 13 with 11:43 to go in the first half.

“We just addressed the rebounding and the defense [after the run],” Pitino said. “I think the rebounding was a problem. We called a timeout and kind of calmed ourselves down a little bit.”

Gophers guard and Queens native Dupree McBrayer scored 18 points against St. John’s, his hometown team.

“You look at Dupree McBrayer [and] the way he’s evolved as a player, I’ve always thought he’d be a really good one, and he’s showing that right now,” Pitino said.

Center Reggie Lynch was the team’s leading rebounder with 11. He also amassed nine blocked shots.

“It’s big just knowing you have a secure big man down there,” said guard Nate Mason.

Power forward Jordan Murphy struggled to stay in the game due to foul trouble. Murphy had five fouls and played only 16 minutes. Every other member of the starting five played at least 30 minutes.

Ahmad Gilbert scored six points in the first half, including a 3-pointer moments before the buzzer.

“Ahmad Gilbert came in [and]hit some big shots when we needed him to,” Pitino said. “To find a way to scratch and claw at the end of the half when you’re in foul trouble, it’s extremely important.”

When Pitino entered the locker room after the game, he said he was unable to tell whether Coffey was happy about the win.

“I got a cooler of water dumped on my head,” Pitino said. “Everybody was kind of mauling me, so I don’t really know.”