Behind Murphy, Minnesota routs Massachusetts
By Denis P. Gorman
NEW YORK (AP) — When it was over, Richard Pitino was asked about his father, Rick.
The former Louisville coach, who was fired last month after a federal investigation, sat three rows behind his son’s bench in a small gym, wearing a University of Minnesota pullover and causing observers to wonder if he spoke to the Golden Gophers.
He did not, but not for the reason one may think.
“If he wanted to, he could have,” the younger Pitino said after No. 14 Minnesota routed Massachusetts 69-51 Friday in the first game of the Barclays Center Classic that was played at LIU. “I think he got (here) late. I think he was out to lunch.”
‘Out to lunch’ is a phrase that could not be applied to the Golden Gophers (6-0). Jordan Murphy scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Minnesota, and Amir Coffey added 10.
“We were the most fundamentally sound,” Pitino said. “I thought we were really connected. A lot of good things.”
While Pitino praised his team, first year UMass coach Matt McCall was dismayed by his team’s performance.
Luwane Pipkins led the Minutemen (3-2) with 18.
“I thought we were timid,” McCall said. “I thought we were scared at times.”
The Golden Gophers never trailed in winning their sixth straight game. Following Pipkins’ layup and free throw which cut Minnesota’s lead to 18-14 with 8:04 left in the half, the Golden Gophers ended the opening 20 minutes with a 22-7 run.
Minnesota forced UMass to miss seven shots during the stretch and created three turnovers. Over the course of the half, the Golden Gophers held Massachusetts to 29 percent shooting. For the game, UMass shot 32 percent and committed 15 turnovers. Off of those 15 turnovers, Minnesota scored 24 points.
“I thought it was self-inflicted,” McCall said. “I thought we took some quick, quick shots early in the clock and when you shoot quick and you turn the ball over, it ignites them.”
Massachusetts’ turnovers and missed shots allowed Minnesota to get into its transition game. When the Minutemen did manage to get back defensively, the Golden Gophers found Murphy in the low post for quick scores.
“It was a good defensive effort, certainly,” Pitino said. “We guarded them well. It allowed us to get out on the break.”
In the second half, the Golden Gophers’ lead grew to 26 after Coffey’s layup 2:54 after the break.
Minnesota: There is a reason Reggie Lynch is among the nation’s premier defensive players. Late in the first half, UMass guard Unique McLean had what should have been a breakaway layup, but Lynch chased down McLean and blocked the attempt.
Massachusetts: So just who are the Minutemen? Are they the team that opened the season with a 3-1 record and had outscored opponents by an average of nine points. Or are they the squad that looked thoroughly overmatched by Minnesota?
Minnesota: The early Friday afternoon game was the first matchup between these schools.
Massachusetts: Because the Barclays Center had prior events — first the Portland Trail Blazers-Brooklyn Nets NBA game followed by two college games (Vanderbilt-Seton Hall and Virginia-Rhode Island) — the first round of this tournament was held at Steinberg Wellness Center on the campus of Long Island University Brooklyn.
MINNESOTA: Plays No. 25 Alabama in the second game of the Barclays Center Classic on Saturday
MASSACHUSETTS: Plays BYU in the first game of the Barclays Center Classic on Saturday.