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Spring, Mason lead Minnesota back to 74-68 win against NJIT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Akeem Springs came off the bench to score 19 points and Nate Mason added 18 for Minnesota, which came from behind in the second half and escaped with a 74-68 victory against NJIT on Tuesday night.

Springs and Mason each hit four 3-pointers as Minnesota was 9 of 21 from beyond the arc. Freshman Amir Coffey added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Gophers (8-1), who have equaled their win total from last season.

A back-and-forth affair saw 13 lead changes, but NJIT never led by more than three points before Minnesota used a 7-0 run to take a 65-61 lead.

''This is a scary time of year in the sense of, you know, you get a lot of home games, obviously the names are not as big as some of the other big ones, so you've got to get your guys to understand you can lose to anybody,'' Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. ''You see it every single night, and you try to tell your guys over and over again, and sometimes just feeling it is a nice wake up call.''

Rob Ukawuba led the Highlanders (5-5) with 18 points. NJIT committed just seven turnovers but shot 34.2 percent from the field and was 8 of 32 from 3.

''We're a program that's on the rise and we're past moral victories, to be honest with you,'' Highlanders coach Brian Kennedy said. ''This is a game that hurts a lot to lose because we felt if we played the way we know we're capable of playing, it was going to be a good game.''

BIG PICTURE

NJIT: The Highlanders continued to show they can hang with the Big Ten. Two years ago on the same day, NJIT went on the road and beat No. 17 Michigan. Earlier this season, the Highlanders went to Purdue and had the game within single digits in the final minutes before losing 79-68. NJIT averaged 61.1 per game and forced 16.44 turnovers per game heading into Tuesday. Against Minnesota, the Highlanders shot 73 times and forced 14 turnovers.

Minnesota: Pitino tried to beef up the nonconference portion of the schedule. After posting wins against St. John's, Arkansas and on the road at Vanderbilt, the Gophers stumbled against the Highlanders, who entered the game 267th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index.

KEY MATCHUP

NJIT guard Damon Lynn entered the game as the active scoring leader in Division with 1,927 points. He had scored at least 20 in six of the team's first nine games.

Mason took the brunt of the defensive responsibility and helped hold Lynn to 12 points on 5-of-24 shooting.

''Never really let him get an open look the whole night,'' Kennedy said of Mason. ''Damon's had a great, great career for us. I wouldn't trade that kid for anybody in the country. He just had an off night shooting tonight.''

HE SAID IT

''I think tomorrow's really going to help the team; seeing how we respond, seeing if we're hungry,'' Springs said. ''We got hit in the mouth and it's good for us. I think tomorrow is what's really going to see if we respond the way we should respond. If we come in hungry, and like coach says, if we work.''

UP NEXT

NJIT: A road-heavy month continues for the Highlanders, who play at Kent State on Dec. 10. NJIT has just one home game in the month of December.

Minnesota: Tuesday's game was the start of five straight nonconference games at home before the Gophers open the Big Ten at home against Michigan State. Minnesota hosts Georgia Southern on Dec. 9.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
Team Stats
Points 0 0
Field Goals 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
3-Pointers 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
Free Throws 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
Total Rebounds 0 0
Offensive 0 0
Defensive 0 0
Team 0 0
Assists 0 0
Steals 0 0
Blocks 0 0
Turnovers 0 0
Fouls 0 0
Technicals 0 0
Team Stats
away team logo New Jersey Tech 22-13 70.6 PPG 36.1 RPG 10.7 APG
home team logo Minnesota 22-14 70.6 PPG 40.2 RPG 14.5 APG
Key Players
4
Z. Cooks 17.6 PPG 4.8 RPG 2.1 APG 45.1 FG%
3
J. Murphy 14.4 PPG 11.0 RPG 2.6 APG 48.7 FG%
Top Scorers
PTS REB AST
PTS REB AST
0 FG% 0
0 3PT FG% 0
0 FT% 0
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Bench
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Bench
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB