MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Murphy had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead Minnesota to an 89-83 victory over Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday night.
Murphy hit 9 of 16 shots and Nate Mason added 17 points with eight assists for the Golden Gophers (5-2).
Jaron Blossomgame scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Jordan Roper scored a career-high 25 for Clemson (4-2), which hit 14 of 28 3-pointers.
The Tigers led by 10 in the first half but they allowed Minnesota to shoot 52.7 percent for the game and had no answer for Murphy down the stretch.
Minnesota went 24 for 30 at the free throw line and only turned it over six times.
Joey King scored 17 points and Charles Buggs scored 15 for the Gophers, who narrowly beat Nebraska-Omaha on their home floor on Friday night. Once again, they had trouble defending the perimeter early in the game, and they nearly dug a hole too deep to climb out of.
The Tigers opened the game with three straight 3-pointers and kept firing through the first half. They made six of their first 11 shots from deep, the last from Avry Holmes for a 37-27 lead with just over three minutes to play in the half.
But Murphy’s only 3 of the game capped a 9-0 run to pull Minnesota back within one and his 3-point play came during another 9-0 surge in the third quarter to put Minnesota ahead 62-56.
The undersized Gophers were outrebounded in each of their first six games, but were the aggressors on the glass on Monday night. They held a 31-25 advantage and Murphy did his best to make the versatile Blossomgame work for his looks.
Blossomgame converted a 3-point play and hit a deep 3 to cut Minnesota’s lead to 76-73 with 2:23 to play, but Mason hit a couple of free throws and Murphy scored on a tip-in to help hold the Tigers off.
It was a solid win for the rebuilding Gophers against their first quality opponent at Williams Arena this season. They faced Missouri-Kansas City, Louisiana-Monroe and Omaha in their first three home games of the season.
The lack of quality opponents, coupled with the fact the Gophers failed to qualify for even the NIT tournament last season, led to another sparse crowd at Williams Arena, once the most popular sports venue in town.
Those that braved the first snow of the year saw an exciting, back-and-forth game.
Clemson: The Tigers haven’t won a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game since 2011. ... The Tigers outscored Minnesota 10-2 on fast-break points.
Minnesota: Richard Pitino shuffled the starting lineup, moving Buggs to the bench in favor of Dupree McBrayer. After the Gophers got beat on the glass in the first two minutes, Buggs was in the game.
Clemson: Hosts USC Upstate on Wednesday.
Minnesota: Hosts South Dakota on Saturday.