Amir Coffey led a balanced Minnesota attack with 18 points and six assists as the Golden Gophers defeated Illinois 86-75 on Wednesday night.
Jordan Murphy had 16 points and 10 rebounds as five players scored in double figures for the Gophers (16-5, 6-4 Big Ten), who overcame a slow start on a night when the temperature at game time was minus-19 Fahrenheit, with a forecast low of minus-30 overnight.
Freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 14 and Isaiah Washington added 12 for Minnesota, while Daniel Oturu, who missed the Gophers’ victory over Iowa on Sunday with a shoulder injury, had 11 points and eight boards off the bench.
Trent Frazier led Illinois (6-15, 2-8) with 30 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Andres Feliz scored 11 and Tevian Jones added 10 for the Illini, who led by as many as five points early in the second half.
Minnesota surged ahead with a 13-1 run that included two Kalscheur 3-pointers. Illinois went almost five minutes without a field goal before Feliz hit a 3 to cut Minnesota’s lead to 55-51 with 12 minutes to play.
But the Gophers weren’t done. Coffey hit a 3-pointer to jumpstart a 12-0 run that he capped with a traditional 3-point play, giving Minnesota a 69-53 lead with just over eight minutes left.
The Illini earned their first Big Ten win of the season on Jan. 16 in a 95-68 blowout of the Gophers.
Minnesota took its first lead on Washington’s driving layup with eight minutes to play in the half, but the Illini immediately responded with a 7-2 run to go back up 28-25.
Murphy put Minnesota back on top with back-to-back dunks, but Frazier scored Illinois’ last eight points of the half, including a 3 at the buzzer to give the Illini a 39-37 lead.
Illinois: The Illini have not been a second-half team this season. This was the ninth of their 15 losses in which they held a lead in the second half.
Minnesota: The Gophers went 0-for-4 on 3s in the first half against the worst 3-point defense in the Big Ten. They pulled away in the second half on the strength of four 3-pointers in the first six minutes.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)