MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Freshman Amir Coffey scored 30 points to lead Minnesota to a 92-86 over St. John's on Friday night.
Dupree McBrayer had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Nate Mason added 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Golden Gophers (4-0), who only turned the ball over six times.
Marcus LoVett scored 31 points on 11-for-27 shooting and Shamorie Ponds had 23 points and eight rebounds for St. John's (2-1). The Red Storm led by 13 points midway through the first half, but shot just 37 percent to let the lead slip away.
Coffey made 9 of 14 shots and was 11 for 12 on free throws. Reggie Lynch grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked nine shots for Minnesota.
St. John's blitzed the Gophers out of the gates, leading 22-9 eight minutes into the game. But Coffey, the son of former Minnesota standout Richard Coffey, keyed the Gophers response, a 32-9 finish to the half that helped them take control.
Bashir Ahmed added 15 points and 10 rebounds for St. John's, which pulled within three points in the second half but couldn't get closer.
St. John's: It's back to the drawing board after falling flat in its first real test of the season. The Red Storm cruised to victories in their first two games against Bethune-Cookman and Binghamton by a combined 63 points. It only gets tougher from here for a team that went 8-24 in Chris Mullin's first season last year, including 1-17 in the Big East.
Minnesota: The momentum continues for a program badly in need of it. After going a disastrous 2-16 in Big Ten play last year, the Gophers are struggling to put fans in the seats at once-raucous Williams Arena in Richard Pitino's fourth season. Those who did show up on Friday night saw an entertaining and fast-paced brand of basketball with local standout Coffey trying to inspire the masses to return to the Barn.
As the crowd stood for the "Star Spangled Banner," the singer's microphone appeared to malfunction. So she just kept right on singing and the entire crowd joined in.
St. John's stays in the Big Ten with its next opponent, facing Michigan State on Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Gophers host another opponent with name recognition when Arkansas comes to town on Tuesday.
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