Payton Willis scored 17 and Jamison Battle added 14 points to lead Minnesota to a 55-44 win over Jacksonville in a nonconference game on Wednesday at Minneapolis.
Sean Sutherlin had 10 points for the Gophers (5-0), who also got five points and a team-high eight rebounds from Eric Curry. Willis shot 6-for-10 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range, while Battle went 6-for-14 from the floor but made just one of his nine attempts from beyond the arc.
Minnesota shot 42.6 percent (23-for-54) from the floor, but it struggled mightily from 3-point range, making 4 of 19 attempts (21.1 percent). The Gophers were also dominated on the boards, as the Dolphins outrebounded them 46-28.
Tommy Bruner scored 11 points and Rod Brown added eight points and a game-high nine rebounds for Jacksonville (2-2). No other Dolphin scored more than five points.
Jacksonville never got into rhythm offensively. The Dolphins shot 31.7 percent (19-for-60) from the field, including making just one of 15 attempts from 3-point range (6.7 percent). Jacksonville committed 16 turnovers that Minnesota converted into nine points.
Leading 30-20 at halftime, the Golden Gophers didn’t allow the Dolphins to score in the first 4:49 of the second half. The Dolphins missed their first nine shots before Brown’s layup trimmed the Minnesota lead to 37-22.
Trailing 8-5 with 14:08 left in the first half, the Golden Gophers took control of the game for good by going on a 21-8 run to take a 26-16 lead on Curry’s three-point play with 2:33 remaining.
The Gophers shot 44.4 percent (12-for-27) from the field but went just 1-for-8 from 3-point range before the break. Minnesota, which outscored the Dolphins 18-6 in the paint in the first half, also forced nine turnovers and converted them into seven points prior to intermission.
The Dolphins likely would have trailed by more than 10 at halftime had it not been for them outrebounding Minnesota 22-13. Jacksonville shot a paltry 31 percent (9-for-29) from the field and missed all six of their first-half shots from beyond the arc.