TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — After a week on the road, Minnesota coach Tubby Smith is happy to be finally headed home — especially with another win.
The 21st-ranked Gophers were playing their fourth game in six days, but showed no signs of being the least bit weary. They bolted to an early double-digit lead that they held for most of the game on the way to a 77-68 win over defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
“To come into Tallahassee here, on the road, against a very tough team, we knew we’d have to play well,” Smith said. “I thought we showed that we had competed against some good competition. Tonight we took another step in the right direction.”
Minnesota jumped to a 7-0 lead and built its biggest lead in the half at 35-20 on Austin Hollins’ 3-pointer with 2:56 left in the half. Andre Hollins’ 3 made it 30-19 with 6:22 remaining and the Gophers held a double-digit lead for most of the game.
“We were shooting the ball well in the first half … and they were struggling,” Smith said. “That was a big key. We made our shots early and they didn’t.”
Minnesota (7-1) led 38-25 at halftime and by as many as 21 points in the second half. The Gophers’ lone loss was to No. 2 Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“Minnesota played with a lot more fire,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They were a lot more aggressive. I thought that we would have been the team that would be extremely aggressive. We’ve been inconsistent with it.”
Joe Coleman scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and Rodney Williams added 14 for Minnesota. A 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, Coleman made 8 of 13 field goals in the game and his 12 second-half points helped the Gophers build a 58-37 lead midway through the half.
“We were able to jump out and get a big lead on them so that obviously makes it a little bit easier,” Williams said. “We knew they were going to fight back and they did but we were able to hold them off at the end. We’re just happy to come back from this road trip 3-1.”
Austin Hollins added 13 points and Andre Hollins had 12 for the Gophers, who never trailed. Elliott Eliason had 10 rebounds. Austin Hollins also kept Florida State’s Michael Snaer in check.
“You’ve got to give Minnesota credit,” Hamilton said. “They did the things they had to do to keep us at bay.”
Reserve Terrance Shannon led Florida State (4-2) with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Snaer finished with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Terry Whisnant and Okaro White both had 10 points for the Seminoles.
Minnesota shot 47.3 percent in the first half while Florida State finished with a chilly 37.9 percent.
Florida State, which won its first ACC title last season, has lost five straight games in the annual ACC-Big Ten challenge dating to a 75-61 victory over the Gophers in Smith’s first season at Minnesota in 2007.