NEW YORK (AP) The Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 66-62 in the third place game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Joey King's season-high 15 points led the way for Minnesota (4-2). DeAndre Mathieu also had a season-high 12 points.
Marcus Thornton led the way for Georgia (3-3) with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Yante Maten scored all 12 of his points in the first half. J.J. Frazier scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
Minnesota came out of the gate firing from downtown (7 of 12) while forcing 15 Georgia turnovers in the first half.
Georgia entered the game averaging 11.4 turnovers per game.
''We had 15 turnovers in the first half and only 16 shots,'' coach Fox said. ''We just did not start well.''
Minnesota's coach Richard Pitino made some tweaks to his defensive system that paid off.
''A lot of it was just being aggressive,'' Pitino said. ''Our matchup zone was really good. We just put that in a couple of days ago. I think that's been good for us, a different look that we haven't done all year just because of certain leads and difficult circumstances, we've got to play guys out of position.''
According to senior Andre Hollins, this is the type of defensive intensity the Golden Gophers need to display on a nightly basis.
''As far as identity-wise, we talk about it a lot,'' Hollins said. ''We're going to be hard-nosed defenders, pressing the ball all the time, just have a lot of character.''
''Moving forward, hopefully we can continue to get better at that,'' Pitino added. ''But we want a high number of steals and we want to turn teams over; that's got to be our identity.''
The Golden Gophers built a 16-point lead (28-12) at the 7:23 mark in the first half before ultimately taking a 37-25 lead into the locker room at the half and never looking back.
Minnesota: Minnesota entered the game ranked 5th in steals per game at 11.6. It also ranked 16th in assists per game at 18.6.
Georgia: Georgia entered the game ranked 20th in blocks per game at 6.4.
Minnesota: Minnesota will play at Wake Forest on Tuesday, December 2nd.
Georgia: Georgia will play at Chattanooga on Tuesday, December 2nd.