Minnesota coach Tubby Smith recorded his 400th career head coaching win on Thursday night in Ann Arbor as Gopher seniors Lawrence McKenzie, Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson combined to score 49 of the Gophers' 77 points. Smith becomes the 21st active coach with 400 career head coaching victories.
Minnesota beat Michigan by a 77-65 tally to move to 13-6 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten conference play. The Wolverines fall to 5-16 overall and 1-7 in the conference. The Gophers shot a season-best 31 of 53 (58.5%) from the field and led by as many as 21 points in the second half.
Michigan’s Manny Harris scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Wolverines.
Lawrence Westbrook tallied a career-high 15 points in the second conference road victory for the Gophers in three tries this season. The sophomore guard finished 6 of 10 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
Coleman’s 17 points moved him past Darryl Mitchell (1978-82) and Randy Carter (1991-94) into 20th on Minnesota’s all-time scoring list with 1,190 career points. Coleman also pulled down 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the 2007-08 campaign and third in seven conference contests this season. Coleman now has nine career double-doubles.
All 18 of McKenzie’s points came in the second half. Interestingly, Thursday night’s performance marked the second time in three games that McKenzie scored at least that many points after a scoreless first half. McKenzie scored all 20 of his points in the second half in the loss to Michigan State on January 20.
Coach Smith spread minutes to bench players much more sparingly against the Wolverines on Thursday night than has been his pattern this season. McKenzie (35 minutes), Coleman (38 minutes), Tollackson (36 minutes) and Westbrook (32 minutes) all logged season-highs in minutes. Gopher guard Kevin Payton did not see playing time for the first time this season.
The Gopher bench logged a season-low 31 combined minutes. Jamal Abu-Shamala scored all five Gopher bench points. The previous scoring low for the Gopher bench had been 15 points in the loss to Michigan State.
The Gophers gained control of the tempo early and jumped out to an 11-2 advantage after a Damian Johnson dunk with 14:42 left in the half. Johnson finished the game with eight points.
Following the Wolverines’ Ron Turner converting on a jumper with 7:36 left in the opening stanza, the Minnesota lead was cut to 24-19, but the five point differential would be as close as Michigan would get.
Minnesota led 34-26 at halftime.
The Gophers went on a 21-8 run to start the second half while pushing the lead to a game-high 21 points with 11:28 left in the game. Although the Wolverines would make a brief run to make the score 71-61 with 1:51 remaining, the Gophers hit six of eight free throws in the final minute of play to keep the game out of reach.
The Gophers return home to Williams Arena on Sunday as they play host to No. 13 Wisconsin (16-3, 6-1) in a 1:00 CT tip. The Badgers will be the third consecutive home opponent for the Gophers ranked in as high as 13th in the AP poll.