Minnesota sneaks past Furman 86-76
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) On a night when another Big Ten team was upset by a nonconference opponent, Richard Pitino got the scare he wanted for his Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Joey King made 8 of 11 shots and scored 19 points as Minnesota got past Furman 86-76 on Monday.
''It's kind of an epidemic right now in college basketball,'' Pitino said. ''We now understand, because we were blowing everybody out, we were kind of like `We're exempt from this, we can't lose to anybody.' But it could happen.''
Purdue lost at home to Gardner-Webb on Monday night and Pitino said he saw during halftime that the Boilermakers were down. However, he said he didn't need to tell his players because he had been hammering that message all week.
DeAndre Mathieu scored 16 points, with seven assists and five steals for Minnesota. Nate Mason added 14 points, including four 3-pointers in the second half.
Mason's final bucket put the Gophers up 79-74 with 1:51 left.
''It's happening everywhere,'' Pitino said. ''And it's happening in the Big Ten. They were aware of that. You have to give Furman credit. It's not like we weren't hitting shots.''
Mason, the reigning Big Ten freshman of the week, played just 22 minutes, but came one bucket away from setting his career-high in points.
His barrage of 3-pointers, combined with Mathieu's quick slashes to the basket allowed the Gophers to outpace a Paladins team that made 63 percent of their shots in the second half.
Stephen Croone hit five 3-pointers and scored 25 points for Furman (2-8). Kendrec Ferrara scored a season-high 18 points off the bench.
Ferrara rattled in four consecutive buckets before Geoff Beans' 3-pointer gave the Furman its first lead at 61-60 with 8 minutes left.
''Getting a good punch from Furman was a good test for our character,'' King said. ''They hit some big-time shots. It was good we kept our composure and took it in the end.''
Minnesota: The Gophers scored at least 80 points for the sixth consecutive game for the first time since the 1992 season.
Furman: Beans, Croone and Daniel Fowler combined to make 12 of 20 attempts from beyond the arc.
The game served as a homecoming for Paladins coach Niko Medved, who is a St. Paul, Minnesota native and got his coaching career started as a student manager at Minnesota. Medved spent one season as an assistant for the Gophers in 2006-07. He's in his second season as Furman's head coach.
''I kept thinking the whole game, I really believed that we had a chance to win,'' Medved said. ''We didn't, but it would've been a great feeling. I'm proud of these guys and I'm blessed to do what I do. This team has a chance to do something.''
Andre Hollins played through a case of turf toe and finished with eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. Pitino said Hollins suffered the injury after the Gophers' victory over Seattle on Friday.
''I was worried he wasn't going to play,'' Pitino said. ''He didn't practice Saturday or Sunday.''
Furman: The Paladins host St. Andrews on Dec. 30.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers host the University of North Carolina-Wilmington on Saturday.