Coffey, Minnesota turn back Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. -- Minnesota forward Amir Coffey was nearly a one-man team in the first half on Thursday, Jan. 3.
After outscoring Wisconsin in the first half, Coffey finished with a game-high 21 points and added six rebounds to lead the visiting Golden Gophers to a 59-52 win over the No. 22 Badgers in Big Ten Conference play.
Dupree McBrayer added 14 points as the Gophers (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten) snapped an eight-game series losing streak to the Badgers (10-4, 2-1). Minnesota shot 6-for-14 on 3-pointers.
Ethan Happ paced the Badgers with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Nate Reuvers added 12 points.
The Badgers shot just 5-for-22 on 3-pointers and 7-for-17 on free throws.
Coffey, a 6-foot-8 junior, shot 5-for-9 from the field for 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Badgers as the Gophers 29-14 led at halftime.
Wisconsin missed nine straight shots to fall into an early hole in the first half. The Gophers reeled off a 14-0 run to seize a 14-6 lead following a free throw by McBrayer.
Coffey scored nine points in a row for the Golden Gophers capped by two free throws, to give Minnesota a 23-11 lead with 4:22 left in the first half.
The Badgers, meanwhile, made just one of their first 11 3-pointers and shot 2-for-17 overall in that span.
After losing 83-76 at Western Kentucky on Saturday, the Badgers came out flat against the Gophers.
In the first half, the Badgers shot a frigid 23.1 percent (6-for-26), including 2-for-14 on 3-pointers, and were outrebounded 25-12 and did not attempt a free throw. The 14-point first-half total was the lowest by the Badgers since 1999, with Wisconsin scoring eight points in the final 16 minutes.
But the Badgers woke up in the second half, scoring nine straight points to cut the deficit to 31-26 after D'Mitrik Trice canned a 3-pointer at the 15:38 mark.
Minutes later, McBrayer hit a jumper and drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 49-38 with 6:15 left.
The Badgers, however, again ran off nine straight points, capped by a steal and layup from Happ and a runner by Trice to cut the margin to 49-47 with 2:07 remaining.
Coffey hit a jumper and then McBrayer added a layup and dunk to pad the lead to 55-47 with 64 seconds left.