After leading 0-10 on the road in Richard Pitino’s final season in Minnesota, new head coach Ben Johnson scored his first win in his first road game on Tuesday.
Guard Luke Lowe’s put-back tip-in clocked 2.4 seconds to top Minnesota in a 54-53 win over Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
After the Panthers missed half-court, Gophers teammates hoisted Lowe on their shoulders. It was the only basket in the game for Lowe’s; The Fond du Lac, Wis., native of William & Mary and the transfer missed his first four shots, but he crashed the rim right after EJ Stephens missed a lap in the final game of the U.
“When it comes time to win the game, you have to be all out,” Johnson said. “And Luke made a great play, great read and was able to tip into it.”
The Gophers, the two-point favourites, improved to 6-0 in the season and showed they could have the resolve to best their slotted finish at the bottom of the Big Ten. Pittsburgh, which is ranked 14th in the 15-team ACC, fell 2-5.
The Gophers overcame three scoring droughts of at least four minutes, made no free throw attempts for the first 35 minutes and had a big night out from Panthers’ 6-foot-9 240-pound center John Hughley, who had the game. -High was 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“We recruited him to Xavier,” Johnson said. “I’ve watched him forever, and I told my guys he’s a very talented player, great hands, really good experience. It’s tough because he’s so big, so wide and strong. … It really takes five people to protect her. You just have to try to strangle her and give her a different (look), a little in front of her, play behind her. Salute to her.”
The younger Gophers had trouble with Hughley after scoring 16 straight points for the Panthers at the end of the first half and at the start of the second. Minnesota switched to a 2-3 zone defense, and Huggle had a hard time taking the shot.
Jamieson Battle led Minnesota with 16 points, including two 3-pointers, to end a four-minute drought in the second half. Peyton Willis added 15 points.
Minnesota began the game with a nearly four-minute drought. While U was 0 for 5 off the field to start the game, so was Pitt.
Minnesota had a five-minute gap at the end of the first half, yet Pitt trailed 24-22 at the break. The Panthers had the lead due to Huggle, who had 15 points in his half, which was one more than his per-game average this season.
But on the road, Yu overcame his own drought and first pitched it to Hughley for a timed shot from the scorer.