MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trevor Mbakwe scored a team-high 17 points and Maverick Ahanmisi chipped in five during an 18-1 second-half run as the Minnesota Gophers pulled away from the South Dakota State Jackrabbits en route to a 71-55 victory Monday night at Williams Arena.
Ahanmisi’s 3-pointer and two free throws served as bookends to the decisive stretch as Minnesota (2-0) turned a 44-39 deficit into a 57-45 lead. Mbakwe scored 13 of his points in the second half. The senior also chipped in 10 rebounds for his 21st career double-double and second in as many games this season. Senior Ralph Sampson III was Minnesota’s only other double-figure scorer with 10.
Jackrabbits junior Nate Wolters scored a game-high 20 for South Dakota State (1-1). Freshman Teavaunn Prince added 13 for the Jackrabbits and Chad White added 11, but South Dakota State was done in by 18 turnovers.
Minnesota shot 57.4 percent from the floor and was 6 for 14 from the 3-point line, a marked improvement from its 3 for 15 showing against Bucknell in its season-opener on Friday. But the bigger Big Ten squad had trouble with its Summit League counterpart in the paint early in the game.
The Jackrabbits only trailed 14-12 in first-half post scoring and grabbed seven offensive rebounds to the Gophers’ none in the first 20 minutes. Minnesota trailed by three at the 8:33 mark, but used a 14-9 run to take a two-point halftime lead.
Wolters scored eight points in South Dakota State’s 14-7 run to start the second half, but Minnesota allowed just 11 points in the final 14:36.
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