Williams, Minnesota down North Dakota State
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Rodney Williams Jr. put home 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with six rebounds as No. 13 Minnesota polished off North Dakota State, 70-57, on Tuesday at Williams Arena.
Trevor Mbakwe hit 5-of-6 from the floor for 14 points and pulled down 18 rebounds, while Andre Hollins buried 3-of-6 from beyond the arc for 11 points for Minnesota (11-1), which has won seven straight since a loss to Duke on Nov. 22.
"He's learning to develop other phases, other parts of his game, other than just sheer power," Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith said of Mbakwe.
Lawrence Alexander matched Williams' effort with 19 points of his own and six assists, while Taylor Braun added 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting for North Dakota State (8-3), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Marshall Bjorklund contributed 12 points and six boards in the setback.
North Dakota State hit four of its first five shots from the floor and jumped out to a quick 9-4 advantage, but the Gophers answered with a dunk from Williams and a 3-ball from Austin Hollins to tie the game, 9-9, with under 14 minutes to play in the opening half.
Braun drained a deep trey with around 6 1/2 minutes to go, cutting it to a 22-20 Minnesota advantage, but the Gophers took control over the rest of the half.
Minnesota closed the half with a 15-6 run, capped by a Hollins trey with six seconds to go in the frame, to take a 37-26 margin into the locker room.
North Dakota State never cut the deficit below nine the rest of the way.
"Minnesota is very good," North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips said. "We knew we had to keep them out of transition. We didn't do near enough of a good job on the offensive glass. We don't see teams and athletes like that every day and we have to learn to handle them a little bit better."
Minnesota is 27-1 all time against the Bison and has won the last 16 consecutive contests. The Gophers only loss in this series came during the 1936-37 season when they suffered a 33-29 setback ... Gophers head coach Tubby Smith is a perfect 13-0 against teams currently in the Summit League, including a 5-0 record against North Dakota State.