By Ryan Falk

Nov. 1, 2015

Williams Arena

Final score: Minnesota 74, Minnesota Crookston 57

Recap:

The Gophers kicked off their season with an exhibition game against Minnesota-Crookston Sunday night.

The Gophers started slow, trailing 16-9 with 10:30 left in the first half, before going on an 11-3 run.

Minnesota found a shooting rhythm in the second half, outscoring the Golden Eagles 44-31 after the break.

Head coach Richard Pitino talked a lot about his new freshman in the offseason and the group combined for 33 of the Gophers’ 74 points. Freshman forward Jordan Murphy led the team with 19 points.

Five observations:

1. Free throws an issue

The Gophers couldn’t hit their free throws in the first half, missing all seven of their attempts.

Minnesota improved in the second half, finishing the game seven of 20 from the line.

2. Defense looks to improve

Head coach Richard Pitino has talked this offseason about his team’s need for improvement on the defensive end. The Gophers allowed teams to shoot 43.6 percent overall and 36.4 percent from three-point range last season.

On Sunday the Gophers held the Eagles to 37.9 percent shooting and 26.7 percent from three-point range.

3.  Jordan Murphy shows his potential

Murphy stood out the most amongst the team’s five eligible freshman Sunday, leading the Gophers in scoring with 19 points.

Murphy also led the team in rebounds with nine.

4. Nate Mason picks up where he left off

Sophomore guard Nate Mason averaged 9.8 points per game last season. He had 10 points in the first half against the Eagles.

Mason finished the game with 12 points, four assists and two rebounds.

5. Block party at the Barn

Minnesota protected the rim well against the Eagles. The Gophers finished the game with eight blocks.

Redshirt junior forward Charles Buggs turned in an impressive performance with five blocks, two of which came in the first half.

Up next:

The Gophers will play Southwestern Minnesota State on Friday at Williams Arena to close out their exhibition schedule.