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Minnesota Basketball Defeats Missouri State 74-69

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Minnesota survives a sluggish second half to escape with a win

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota defeated Missouri State 74-69 this morning in Puerto Rico. Joey King led all Minnesota scorers with 18 points. Minnesota improves to 3-1 on the season and will play the winner of Mississippi State and Texas Tech on Sunday. After building a comfortable 13 point lead at the half, Minnesota appeared to run out of energy and let Missouri State claw back into the game. Fortunately for the Gophers, the team made enough plays late to hang on. Notably, Kevin Dorsey made some critical free throws and had a late block to seal the win.

Joey King started out 6-6 from three point land, and finished 6-7 from the line. He also had four rebounds, and three assists. It is unlikely that King will continue to be that hot from deep, but it is a potential bright spot for the Gophers moving forward.

The rest of the team was 7-16 from behind the arc. Missouri State based out of a zone for much of the second half, which reduced the effectiveness of the inside game. Still, many of Minnesota's missed threes were the result of rushing instead of making an extra pass. To a degree, this is understandable. The Gophers are playing their third game of the season, and the freshmen are anxious to show their skills. If fans see the same behavior midway through the season, then they will have something to be up in arms about.

Fouls were the main story for the Gophers. Almost every major contributor on the interior had 4. King fouled out of the game, and Konate was lucky to avoid fouling out as well. Missouri State had 37 free throw attempts to Minnesota's 19. Minnesota must clean up its defense, but there's little else to take away from that. The Gophers, outside of Konate, are not an especially foul prone team.

Individual Player Notes

Kevin Dorsey showed flashes of why scouts were raving about him. He had several key defensive plays late in the game. Pitino's decision to insert him for the closing stretch says much about the coach's confidence in Dorsey's defense. The freshmen made a few poor decisions on offense, and at this juncture in the season his defense is well ahead of his offensive game.

Nate Mason was 3-10 from the field, and 0-7 from inside the arc. Some of his misses looked to be the result of fatigue.

GN UPDATE: Next game is at 1:30 on Sunday, will still be televised on ESPNU and opponent will be winner of Texas Tech / Mississippi St.