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Gophers can’t pull away from North Florida, settle for close win

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team led North Florida for the final 14 minutes Tuesday night, Dec. 11, at Williams Arena. But there was little comfort in Minnesota’s 81-71 win over a program from the little-known Atlantic Sun Conference.

Minnesota (9-2) overcame another poor 3-point shooting night to survive North Florida, a 12-year-old Division I program with only one NCAA tournament appearance four years ago.

North Florida (4-6) made eight 3-pointers and shot 36 percent from deep, while the Gophers had one make on 15 attempts for an abysmal seven percent. The Gophers' best shooter, freshman Gabe Kalscheur, was 0 for 8 from three-point range.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Washington was a spark for the Gophers. He had a career high 13 assists, breaking the 11 he totaled in the season opener against Nebraska Omaha on Nov. 6. He had 14 points on 50 percent shooting, with zero turnovers

Jordan Murphy led all players with 20 points and 18 rebounds.

The Gophers’ were cold-shooting from the jump. They shot 27 percent across the opening five games and allowed North Florida to take a 11-8 lead. After a TV timeout, the Gophers went on a quick 6-0 spirt with a couple of driving baskets from Amir Coffey. It wouldn’t last.

The Ospreys hung within striking distance throughout the first half and would’ve led at halftime, if not for Murphy’s buzzer-beating put-back gave the U a slim 35-34 lead. Their last lead came at 46-45 with 14 minutes and five seconds left in the game.

In the first half, Murphy led all scorers with 11 points as well as seven rebounds, while Washington had eight assists and no turnovers.

Shooting guard Brock Still, a graduate transfer from Milwaukee, made his first start at Minnesota, replacing Dupree McBrayer who was attending his mother’s wake Tuesday in New York.