MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Daniel Oturu recorded his fourth straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead Minnesota past Mount St. Mary’s 71-53 Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota also got 15 points from Dupree McBrayer and 13 from Amir Coffey. Jordan Murphy had 10 points and nine rebounds.
For Minnesota (11-2) the most important development was the return of center Eric Curry to the court for the first time in 644 days. After missing the 2017-18 season because of a torn ACL, the redshirt sophomore aggravated the knee injury in the fall and was held out until Minnesota’s final non-conference game as a precaution.
Curry, a 6-foot-9, 240-pounder who averaged 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in his freshman season, received a loud ovation when he entered 3:45 into the game, flashing a wide smile on his face. He scored on a reverse layup seven minutes into the first half in transition for his first points since the 2017 NCAA tournament.
Vado Morse scored 18 points and Dee Barnes added 13 for the Mountaineers (3-10), which rallied midway through the second half before fading.
The Gophers started the game with a 9-0 run, but they never built a first-half lead bigger than 11 points. After going a woeful 5 for 35 from 3-point range over their last two games, the Gophers missed eight of their 10 attempts from behind the arc before halftime. Their most important shot, then, of the first half was probably McBrayer’s 3-pointer from the wing with 1:20 left that put them up 31-21.
Up by eight at the half, Minnesota opened the second half on a 13-5 run, including five points from Gabe Kalscheur, before the Mountaineers scored 10 straight points to get within 44-38 with 11:26 to play.
A jumper by Oturu, a freshman who has scored in double figures in five straight, keyed a 10-2 stretch to put Minnesota up 61-47 with 3:52 to go.
Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers — who started the season with nine straight losses including defeats on the road by North Carolina State (105-55), Maryland (92-77) and St. John’s (85-71) — have one of the most inexperienced rosters in the nation under first-year head coach Dan Engelstad with all 16 players either freshmen or sophomores. Sunday provided continued growth.
Minnesota: To be successful in the Big Ten, the Gophers will need to limit the turnovers. The Gophers had 12 against a mid-major foe after 14 in their last game against North Carolina A&T.