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Dorsey and McBrayer game-changers in Gophers' win over Clemson

The Gophers walked away with an 89-83 win over Clemson on Monday, a meaningful win for the program considering the apparent size and physicality disadvantages and the struggles that have been more than apparent in the last several weeks.

But with 13:16 left, Minnesota trailed Clemson 55-50 after briefly leading for the first time since early in the first half.

It looked, for a moment, like the Gophers would fall into the same trap they’d shown vs. Temple and Texas Tech in Puerto Rico, surging only to fall back into a loss.

Then Minnesota freshmen guards Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer entered the lineup.

Look back at the boxscore, and their production doesn’t elicit more than a shrug. Combined, the two guards totaled eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. But watching the pair take over defensively at the end painted a different picture of effectiveness.

From 13:16 to 9:11, freshman forward Jordan Murphy, in the midst of a 24-point, 10 rebound game, scored five points and junior forward Charles Buggs hit a huge three-pointer to flip the momentum.

None of that would have looked as good, however, had the Gophers not clamped down defensively.

Clemson turned over the ball five times and fouled eight times in the same span, allowing Minnesota to charge ahead on a 12-1 run.

The differencemakers? Dorsey and McBrayer, driving Minnesota’s resurged defensive pressure, bewildering Clemson’s guards and instigating the switches that caused the Tigers' attack to fall apart at the seams.

Dupree McBrayer -- AP photo

Jordan Roper, who was knocking down everything earlier, and finished with a game-high 25 points, managed only to get to the line twice more in the final 13:16 and hit just one more basket. Guards Avry Holmes, Gabe DeVoe and Ty Hudson combined to connect on just one more field goal the rest of the way as coach Brad Brownell tried rotating through his backcourt to try to find something that works.

Nothing did.

It started with Dorsey, whose intensity and eye-popping speed is tough for anyone to reckon with, but McBrayer was critical in that pressuring lineup too, his length helping to contain the Clemson attack. Dorsey can be out of control at times from a scoring perspective, but last night, he put it all together, and the result was game-changing.

With Murphy helping to root the frontcourt in that stretch, it was a glimpse of Minnesota’s future impacting the present: three growing freshmen, showing fans just what Gophers basketball might look like down the road.

Postgame: Gophers fans introduced to Jordan Murphy in win over Clemson

Read my full story on Minnesota’s 89-83 win over Clemson, here.

Three observations before I hit the snowy roads:

Hello, Murphy. Ever since freshman Jordan Murphy stepped on campus and we heard coach Richard Pitino gush and caught glimpses of the 6-6 forward’s length and explosiveness at the basket, we’ve been waiting to see this. Well, maybe not this, exactly, but some version of the high-powered Murphy we saw dominate the court on Monday night. An extremely hard-working rebounder with natural pop. A powerful scorer in the paint. In the last two games, Murphy seems to have woken up and realized he could be those things, and now. Monday was almost too strong a performance to anticipate at this stage – with eight offensive rebounds, two blocks and two steals complementing his 24 points, and his ability to explode from the baseline to tip in wayward shots. Very impressive, indeed – as Charles Buggs said, a “young Trevor Mbakwe.” It’s my belief that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Not what I expected, but entertaining. Pitino has built his stylistic reputation on defense and that seemed like the key vs. a lackluster Clemson offense on Monday. Instead, the Gophers allowed the Tigers to shoot 14 three-pointers after making more than eight just once this year and shoot 53.7 percent from the field. But besides getting to the line 30 times (making 24), Minnesota out-ran Clemson on the other end, out-rebounded the Tigers and made few mistakes (13 personal fouls and six turnovers). Just like the Gophers, right? Ok, not really, but it made for a good game to watch.

Don’t underestimate Dorsey’s worth here. No eye-popping stats tonight, but 6-foot freshman guard Kevin Dorsey was every bit as critical to this win as anyone. The pressure he put on Clemson’s guards appeared to baffle them and slowed the Tigers’ attack to a crawl. Dorsey has so many tools that will make him a good player, his speed and defensive prowess hitting the top of that list. But the undersized freshman’s insane athleticism also allows him to contest shots and leap up for rebounds that should belong to the bigs.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Orlando at Timberwolves

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