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Mason & Murphy shine in double OT victory over Iowa

Minnesota improved to 5-6 in league play with a 101-89 double overtime win over Iowa last night and the Gophers won the game on the shoulders of Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy.

The recent struggles of Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason had been well documented. Murphy with 44 rebounds total in the previous eight games, Mason shooting 27 percent since the Purdue game.

Both Jordan and Nate began breaking free of their issues in Champaign last weekend and then Wednesday night they led the Gophers to a key victory.  Jordan Murphy finished with 25 points and 19 rebounds in 39 minutes while Nate Mason put up 25 points with seven assists with only one turnover.

“I'm proud of our guys,” Richard Pitino said after the game. “They showed some heart and great character to break through. 17 to 5 in double overtime is terrific.

“Nate Mason was tremendous and obviously Jordan Murphy was phenomenal, I mean Jordan did that just by sheer will, when he does that we are pretty difficult.

“A lot of respect for that Iowa team, they have really, really good talent, obviously Peter Jok is terrific and some of those young guys will be a force to be reckoned with.

“Overall I am extremely proud of our guys, probably the most proud I've been since I've been here."

There were some ugly times late where 4-7 in conference play looked like the eventual result.  But on this night the Gophers fought through recent history and earned a crucial victory.

"I thought they just fought through it, they were really tired, and I was refusing to sub,” Pitino said.  “They squandered a lead and they fought through it.

“Nate Mason made winning plays at the end and so did Jordan Murphy. I think it was just one of those deals where we had to break through at some point; we have had a bunch of overtime games."

It was more than Murphy and Mason though.  @Reggie Lynch overcame a bad night shooting to collect a dozen boards and block six shots.  Akeem Springs hit five threes on his way to 17 points. Amir Coffey scored 13 points with six assists and also had three big steals late in the game.

"It was just a great win,” said Mason who shot 9 of 21 for the game and made all five of his foul shots.  “Before the game he showed us the clips of Kansas, how tired they were and how they pushed through against Kansas State.

“That just motivated us, so we came out there and said we're going to give it our all today. We went through two overtimes. You could see how fatigued we were in those overtimes. It's fun to come out on the winning side of those.”

Mason is commonly the player with the ball in his hands when Minnesota needs a game winning basket.  Last night he twice scored clutch baskets including the score that tied the game at 77.

"Coach trusted me enough,” Mason said.  “He got the ball into my hands with 20 seconds. It was either Murphy or Reggie that came up and set the screen. I saw Pemsl switch on me, and I knew he couldn't stay in front of me. I drove right and just kept going."

Also with clutch scores late was Jordan Murphy.  He at one point had four baskets in six possessions in the second half and was a part of two overtime dunks before fouling out.

"It was definitely a big momentum swing when we got the back to back dunks, Jordan said.  “It really got the crowd involved. That's what we look forward to doing, seeing the fans get up and start clapping and cheering us on like that."

“He was terrific tonight,” said Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffrey.  “He played with great energy. I have always really thought of him when he came into the league last year.

“I think he is growing. He is fitting in on the different team this year.  He has got more weapons now.”

Next up for Minnesota (17-7, 5-6) is an 11am game at Rutgers Saturday morning.  The Scarlet Knights who are 13-12 overall and 2-10 in Big Ten play.  Rutgers did just win at Penn State though and lost by two scores in Columbus last night so they are playing better.

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