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Coffey’s 1st double-double lifts Minnesota over Northwestern

Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Amir Coffey (5) dunks in front of Northwestern Wildcats forward Aaron Falzon (35) during the second half Thursday, Feb. 28, at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanton, Ill. Nuccio DiNuzzo / USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Junior guard Amir Coffey delivered his first career double-double to steer Minnesota to a 62-50 Big Ten victory over Northwestern on Thursday night, Feb. 28

Coffey scored a career-high-tying 32 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds to pace the Gophers (18-11, 8-10), who won for just the second time in their last eight games. Coffey never came off the floor for Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, who gave his reserves just 22 minutes.

Northwestern senior center Dererk Pardon posted 16 points and 13 rebounds to earn his seventh double-double of the season and 16th of his career. Senior forward Vic Law added 13 points and seven assists for the Wildcats (12-16, 3-14), who dropped their ninth game in a row.

Minnesota's man-to-man defense stifled Northwestern into 34 percent shooting from the field -- a number that improved during junk time -- and forced 14 turnovers.

Law hit a 3-pointer on Northwestern's first possession to give the Wildcats a 3-2 edge 33 seconds into the game, then the Wildcats managed just three points over the next nine minutes as Minnesota claimed a 16-6 lead.

Wildcats freshman forward Miller Kopp came off the bench to spark a mini-rally with back-to-back 3-pointers that pulled Northwestern within 18-14.

But Minnesota's man-to-man continued to stifle the hosts as the Gophers went on a 10-0 run -- capped by freshman guard Gabe Kalscheur's 3-pointer from the corner -- to build a 28-14 margin with 4:13 to play in the first half.

The Gophers held a 32-20 lead at the break -- Northwestern's lowest first-half total this season -- as Coffey attacked the basket again and again to pile up a game-high 15 points.

Northwestern started fast in the second half with Pardon's layup and Law's fast-break jam, but Minnesota answered with a 9-0 run capped by freshman center Daniel Oturu's cherry-picking breakaway dunk that caused Northwestern coach Chris Collins to burn a timeout.

Northwestern never cut the margin to single digits again.

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