The University of Minnesota men's basketball team (17-12, 8-8) defeated the St. Louis Billikens (16-14, 9-7) 62-52 in St. Louis, Mo. today to advance to the second round of the NIT Tournament. The Gophers jumped out to a commanding 18-7 lead at the midway point in the first half and never looked back. They finished the half with a 35- 20 lead and were able keep it going in the second half. Minnesota fought off a 10-4 Billiken run that cut their lead to four with 4:29 remaining in the game to earn the 62-52 victory.
The Golden Gophers went on an offensive tear early in the first half, jumping out to an 18-7 lead at the 10:24 mark. The Billikens attempted a comeback with a 6-1 run that brought them within six with 7:42 on the clock. But, the Maroon and Gold refused to let their lead dwindle any further by only allowing seven points the remainder of the half. The Gophers' 16-7 run gave them a 15-point, 35-20, half-time lead.
The second half was much of the same for the Gophers, holding on strong to their double figure lead. However, the Billikens started a 10-4 run at the 10:16 mark when Anthony Drejaj swished a trey. A dunk by Chris Sloan capped St. Louis' run and cutback Minnesota's lead to just four with 4:11 remaining on the clock. The Maroon and Gold pushed their lead to nine with 33 seconds remaining when Jerry Holman slammed in a dunk to bring the score to 57-48, securing the win. Three Ben Johnson free throws and two from Maurice Hargrow gave Minnesota the ten-point, 62-52, victory.
Rickert and Hargrow led Minnesota with 15 points each. Holman added 13 points and four rebounds, while Bauer had 11 points and six rebounds.
St. Louis was led by Sloan with 13 points and nine rebounds and Drejaj with 12 points and five rebounds.
Next up, the Golden Gophers will face the winner of the UNLV-Hawaii game. Game time and location have yet to be determined.