Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy (3) shoots over the defense of Michigan guard Zak Irvin (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio
January 20, 2016

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) After a grueling stretch that included games against three of the Big Ten's top teams, perhaps Michigan was due for a letdown.

Sure enough, the Wolverines looked flat for stretches - but still held on for a win against upset-minded Minnesota.

''We can't take any team lightly,'' guard Zak Irvin said. ''I know this wasn't a pretty win for us, but I was just proud how we were able to fight and get the win.''

Irvin had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Michigan overcame uncharacteristically poor shooting to hold off the Golden Gophers 74-69 on Wednesday night. Derrick Walton added 22 points for the Wolverines, but nobody else was in double figures for Michigan.

The Wolverines (14-5, 4-2 Big Ten) led by as many as 15 in the first half, but Minnesota closed the gap, and with Michigan shooting well under 40 percent from the field, the Golden Gophers (6-13, 0-7) were able to hang around. The Wolverines led 52-49 before Aubrey Dawkins and Walton made 3-pointers to give Michigan a more comfortable advantage.

Nate Mason scored 25 points to lead Minnesota, which lost by seven to Indiana before facing Michigan.

''I think we're now starting to show what we can become,'' Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. ''We look back and we say we're close. We couldn't say that early in the Big Ten season. I think we can now say it over the last two games - we're close.

''We're not about moral victories, but we liked our effort.''

The Wolverines were without guard Caris LeVert, who missed his fifth straight game with a lower left leg injury. Michigan was coming off a tough three-game stretch against Purdue, Maryland and Iowa. The Wolverines were able to win one of those games, and now the schedule eases up a bit, but this victory over the lowly Gophers wasn't particularly convincing.

Michigan shot 9 of 31 from 3-point range, snapping a streak of seven games in which the Wolverines had made at least 10 shots from beyond the arc.

Michigan ended up shooting 36.5 percent from the field, its worst output in over a month. The Wolverines led 37-22 before Minnesota scored the final eight points of the first half, and it was hard for Michigan to shake free in the second.

''We had a wide-open 3, ready to go up 18,'' Wolverines coach John Beilein said. ''And the next thing you know, those last couple minutes it was seven points at half.''

FROM THE LINE

Michigan did do a good job securing the win with free throws at the end. The Wolverines finished 19 of 23 from the line, with Walton going 11 of 12.

Walton set a career high with his 11 made free throws.

SHUT DOWN

Joey King, who came in as Minnesota's top scorer at 12.9 points per game, was held scoreless until he made a 3-pointer in the final minute.

''We probably made a choice to try and not let King beat us from the outside,'' Beilein said. ''That really opened up some things for their guards, in particular Mason was really good.''

TIP-INS

Minnesota: The Gophers were without F Ahmad Gilbert, who is expected to miss three to four weeks after having surgery on a finger on his left hand. ... Although Michigan didn't shoot well, the Gophers ended up at only 42 percent from the field.

Michigan: The Wolverines have won eight straight against Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Hosts Illinois on Saturday night.

Michigan: Plays at Nebraska on Saturday.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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