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MINNEAPOLIS - And now Minnesota's games will count.
The Golden Gophers wrapped up the second of their two exhibitions on Monday night at Williams Arena, defeating Southwest Baptist, 86-59, in front of a crowd of 8,654.
Four Minnesota players finished in double figures, led for the second straight game by sophomore guard Joe Coleman, who netted a game-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Senior forward Rodney Williams added 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Andre Hollins had 12 points and junior guard Austin Hollins chipped in with 10.
In all, 12 players scored for Minnesota, which made 31-of-59 (.525) field goals in the win. Southwest Baptist, an NCAA Division II member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, was 22-of-64 (.344) from the field and attempted 36 three-pointers. The Bearcats were playing their third exhibition in four days after losing games at Arkansas (106-78) and Drake (101-80) over the weekend.
The teams got off to a sluggish start, as Minnesota missed its first three field goal attempts and Southwest Baptist started 0-for-2. But after Coleman broke the ice with a free throw, Williams drove the lane for a dunk, followed by a fast break layup by Coleman to give the Gophers a 5-0 lead and force an SBU timeout.
The timeout didn't work, as Williams came up with a loose ball and drove for another dunk, then added a fast break layup to put Minnesota up 9-0 and force a second SBU timeout.
The Bearcats missed their first seven shots before finally getting a layup with 14:43 remaining to cut it to 9-2. But, after Minnesota took a 13-4 lead, SBU went on a 13-5 run of its own to cut the Gophers' advantage to 18-17.
Minnesota went back to a unit that included four starters and built the lead back to 37-23. Eventually, the lead stretched to as many as 17 points at 44-27 before the Gophers took a 44-30 lead into the halftime break.
The Gophers made 16-of-26 (.615) field goals in the first half, but also had 10 turnovers and allowed SBU to make seven three-point field goals. The Bearcats attempted 30 first-half field goals, and 21 were from beyond the arc. Coleman led Minnesota with 10 points at the break, while Williams had nine points and four rebounds.
Minnesota opened the second half with a 12-5 run at the outset to push its lead to 21 points, 56-35, and the advantage reached as many as 31 points. Senior guard Julian Welch finished with eight points and led the Gophers with four assists and three steals. Senior forward Trevor Mbakwe was on the floor for just 11 minutes, but had three points, three rebounds and a pair of assists.
Preston Guiot led the Bearcats with 14 points and six rebounds, while Gilbert Giamfi and Rasha Brown-Peterson each tallied 12 points.
The Gophers will now focus on their season-opener versus American University on Friday night. Tipoff at Williams Arena is set for 7:00 p.m., and the game will be streamed live on Gopher All-Access.
--By Michael Molde, GopherSports.com
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