National Basketball Association
Minnesota 76, Western Kentucky 54
When: 8:00 PM ET, Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Officials: # Randy Heimerman, # Matt Potter, # Lamont Simpson
Attendance: 10763

Minnesota 76, Western Kentucky 54: Maurice Walker scored 14 points and DeAndre Mathieu played solidly on both ends of the floor as the host Golden Gophers cruised in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Mathieu contributed 11 points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds for Minnesota (1-1), which used a 12-2 first-half run to bounce back from Friday’s season-opening loss to Louisville and avoid its first 0-2 start since 1960. Nate Mason and Joey King each finished with 10 points.

Nigel Snipes and Justin Johnson each scored 15 points for the Hilltoppers (1-1). Western Kentucky struggled offensively, committing 25 turnovers and shooting 31.6 percent from the field.

The Golden Gophers hit four 3-pointers in the first seven minutes, including back-to-back long-range shots from Mason, to build an 18-6 advantage. Western Kentucky drew within 24-17 on Snipes’ 3-pointer with just under eight minutes to play, but Minnesota scored 12 of the next 14 points – including 3-pointers from Mathieu and King – to move ahead 36-19 on Elliott Eliason’s three-point play with 3:18 left in the half.

Two Walker baskets in the opening minute of the second half and Carlos Morris’ three-point play extended Minnesota’s advantage to 53-28. The Golden Gophers cruised despite an off night offensively from Andre Hollins, who recorded four steals but finished 2-for-8 from the field in scoring just five points.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Minnesota forced 16 first-half turnovers. … Snipes and Johnson combined to shoot 11-of-19 from the field; the rest of the Hilltoppers combined to finish 7-of-38. … The Golden Gophers improved to 2-0 all-time against Western Kentucky; the first victory came in 2010 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Top Game Performances
Western Kentucky   Minnesota
Justin Johnson 15 Scoring Maurice Walker 14
Trency Jackson 5 Assists Deandre Mathieu 6
Nigel Snipes 8 Rebounds Nate Mason 5
Justin Johnson 3 Free Throws Made Maurice Walker 4
Trency Jackson 2 Steals Deandre Mathieu 5
Ben Lawson 2 Blocks Carlos Morris 2
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Western Kentucky 54 31.6 8-28 10-12 14 37 2 4 25
Minnesota 76 43.3 8-22 10-19 19 37 5 17 11