Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gophers Punish Stephen F. Austin

The Gopher basketball team survived a slow start and blew the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin off the Williams Arena floor Monday night with an 82-42 victory in the team's second non-conference game of the season.

With the Gophers down one point with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, the Gophers started a 33-5 run which concluded midway through the second half and never looked back. The Gophers closed the first half with a 12-2 run and opened the second half by scoring the first 16 points.

Minnesota shot a pedestrian 45.5% in the first half and then a sizzling 61.3% in the second half, including 8-12 from beyond the arc. The tough defense held the Lumberjacks to 30% shooting for the game and forced 19 turnovers. Coach Tubby Smith cannot be happy with his team's 15 turnovers' however.

The Gophers had four players reach double-figures for the game, led by sophomore Devoe Joseph, who continued his fine start with 15 points on 5-7 shooting (3-3 on three-point attempts) and senior Lawrence Westbrook also with 15 (6-10 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range). Freshman Rodney Williams pitched-in 14, including 2-3 on three-point attempts. Senior Damian Johnson had 11 points.

Stephen F. Austin qualified for the NCAA Tournament one season ago, but was no match for the athletic Gophers. Next up for Minnesota is Utah Valley at Williams Arena on Thursday night. After that game, the Gophers head west for more stiff competition and the "76 Classic" Thanksgiving tournament, in which Minnesota will face Butler in the opening game and either UCLA or Portland in the next. It will be a good test for a team which has shown a staggering amount of athleticism in this early season. 

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