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Coffey, Murphy Lead Minnesota Over Rutgers
January 12, 2019

Minnesota stars Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy recovered from lackluster performances against Maryland and rose up to play prominent roles in the Gophers’ 88-70 home win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on January 12.

Coffey pumped in 29 points and double-double machine power forward Murphy passed Draymond Green for fourth place on the Big Ten’s all-time rebounding list. Murphy had 11 rebounds to go with 15 points.

Rutgers was severely hampered by the loss through injury (dislocated kneecap) of leading scorer (14.6 average) of Eugene Omoruyi. Into his place stepped Junior Shaq Carter, who scored eight points. Geo Baker and Myles Johnson led the Knights with 13 points each.

The Gophers began the game slowly but achieved a 27-18 lead on a DuPree McBrayer fast-break basket with eight minutes left in the first half. Any thoughts of a potential run-away win were dashed by a Johnson basket that closed the gap to 28-26. An 11-6 run by Minnesota created a 39-32 halftime advantage.

The second half saw the Gophers advance the lead to 45-36 on a Murphy basket but the lead felt tenuis as Rutgers continued to chip away. Another Johnson basket drew the Red Knights to within 54-49 and thoughts of another Maryland-game collapse were inevitable. This was a wounded Rutgers team, however, and one lacking the length and strength of mighty Maryland.

A Daniel Oturu basket in the paint stretched the lead to 61-49 at 10:44 of the period. Rutgers managed to close to within seven on a Montez Mathis fast-break basket, but a three-point score by Gopher sub Isiah Washington boosted the lead to 66-56, and Rutgers ran out of answers. A Coffey dunk energized the crowd and stretched the lead to 77-57 with five and one-half minutes left in the game.

Coffey, who was wretched from the line against Maryland, sank eight of 10 free-throw attempts and was 10 of 14 from the field. McBrayer scored 15 points.

“Rutgers wanted us to get into foul trouble,” said coach Richard Pitino after the game, “but we didn’t.” Instead, it was Rutgers that encountered fouling problems. “It’s hard not to foul Jordan [Murphy]. He was nearly unstoppable today.” (Murphy made nine of 11 free throw attempts.)

“I told Amir and Jordan to be very assertive. Amir is one of the better players in the league right now.”

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