The No. 14 Gophers had everyone involved in a 100-57 route of the Alabama A&M Bulldogs on Tuesday.
Five players on Minnesota (5-0) reached double digits and 12 players total scored. Alabama A&M fell to 0-4 on the season.
“I told the [team] ‘I don’t know if we have played a great 40 minutes at home’,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “I thought today they were really good. Those are tough games to play in as well and I thought our guys were really mature about it.”
Forward Jordan Murphy collected his fifth consecutive double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 9-10 shooting. Forward Davonte Fitzgerald had his best game so far, shooting perfect from the field and scoring 13 points. He also added eight rebounds.
Murphy got the ball just outside the paint with around one second remaining in the first half. The forward pulled up and drilled a jump shot as time expired. The shot sent the Gophers into the locker room with a 22-point lead.
Fitzgerald hadn't played college basketball before this season in two years due to injury. One of Minnesota's best forwards — Eric Curry — suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury before the season, increasing Fitzgerald's role on the team. So far, he has been the player they hope can fill Curry's role.
“[The knee] felt good," Fitzgerald said. "Everyday just trying to get better, trying to get my flow going, trying to get up the court. Body-wise today was a good day; it was a good stepping stone.”
Center Reggie Lynch added 11 points to go along with Murphy and Fitzgerald’s productivity. The Gophers did not reach their school record 32 assists they set last week against Niagara, but they did have 28. Guard Amir Coffey ended the game with nine points and eight assists to tie guard Isaiah Washington for the most assists in the game.
Four bench players received more than 15 minutes of playing time. Washington led the bench players in minutes with 21. Washington struggled shooting, going 2-8, but made eight assists. Guard Jamir Harris came in and hit three three-point shots in a row to give the team a spark. Forward Michael Hurt had 18 minutes and a baseline dunk.
“Those were good minutes for those guys to play, not to mention we have to travel tomorrow and prepare for two games,” Pitino said. “It was good to get rest as well.”
Nate Mason had 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, including a 9-0 run by himself. He played in 18 minutes of the game, which was the lowest among the starters. Dupree McBrayer added six points and three assists.
Minnesota takes on Alabama Saturday and No. 11 Miami on Nov. 29. With big games like those coming up, it could have been easy for the Gophers to underestimate the Bulldogs.
“We can’t overlook anybody. Anyone can beat anybody on any given night, so we keep that in our minds,” Murphy said. “[We] just needing our guys humble making sure they know not to take any game for granite.”