MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gabe Kalscheur had 19 points on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range in his second college game as all five Minnesota starters scored in double digits, guiding the Gophers past Utah 78-69 on Monday night.
Jordan Murphy had 11 points, 17 rebounds and five assists for the Gophers (2-0), who registered 20 assists to just 11 turnovers. Amir Coffey had 14 points and six assists, Daniel Oturu pitched in 13 points and Dupree McBrayer added 11 points and six assists.
Sedrick Barefield and Vante Hendrix each scored 14 points for the Utes (1-1), who trailed for the final 25 minutes of the game. Novak Topalovic, the 7-foot graduate transfer, had 13 points and three rebounds.
Coffey’s 3-pointer with 5:53 left in the first half gave the Gophers the lead for good at 20-18, and he followed with a steal of Timmy Allen for a fast-break and a dunk. Kalscheur, the less-heralded freshman starter next to the four-star recruit Oturu, sank his fourth 3-pointer of the half for a 33-26 advantage at the intermission.
Murphy, Oturu and backup center Matz Stockman helped the Gophers keep Topalovic in check and win the points-in-the-paint competition at 38-32, but they pulled away down the stretch with their jump shooting. With a swish from the wing by Michael Hurt off a fast break just inside the 3-point line, the Gophers took their biggest lead of the game at 57-42.
The Utes used some full-court press and a surge by Barefield, their only returning starter, to climb back into contention and cut the deficit to 62-57 on a step-back jumper with 6:13 remaining. But the Gophers quickly responded with a dunk by Oturu off a lob pass from McBrayer on a pick-and-roll, and a jump shot by McBrayer in the final minute brought the lead back to 13 points.
The Utes led the Pac-12 in defense last season, allowing an average of 68.5 points per game on 41 percent shooting from the floor. The Gophers made 17 of 28 field goals (60.7 percent) in the second half.
This was only the fourth meeting between the programs and the first in Minnesota. They last played in Utah on Nov. 19, 2003.
Utah: With nine new players on the roster, including six freshmen, the nonconference portion of the season could bring some growing pains for coach Larry Krystkowiak’s squad that lost three of the top four scorers from the 2017-18 team that reached the NIT championship game. The incoming class is rich with athleticism and potential, but the outside shooting has been streaky so far. The Utes went 7 for 20 from 3-point range. One of the freshmen, Both Gach, once played in the Minnesota state tournament with Austin High School. He sank both of his 3-point attempts.
Minnesota: This was the only game at Williams Arena for the Gophers in a 28-day stretch, a strange start to the schedule that includes a local game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 30 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Vikings and the site of this season’s NCAA Final Four. With five power-conference opponents on the slate prior to Big Ten play, coach Richard Pitino’s goal was to not only give the Gophers more challenges in November but give the NCAA Tournament selection committee more to consider come March. Even with Utah’s inexperience, this was still a quality win for Minnesota.
Utah: Hosts Mississippi Valley State on Thursday.
Minnesota: Plays Texas A&M on Sunday in the first of three games in the Vancouver Showcase, followed by matchups with Santa Clara and Washington.
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