In a game the Gophers needed desperately to stay in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid, Amir Coffey delivered one of the best performances of his career.
For that, Coffey was named Big Ten player of the week Monday for his 31 points and 12 rebounds playing 40 minutes in a 62-50 win Feb. 28 against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
The 6-foot-8 junior guard is averaging a team-best 16.5 points and 34.2 minutes in Big Ten play. Coffey's first career double-double came at the right time after he struggled with just 11 points per game on 35 percent shooting in the previous seven games. The Gophers had a 1-6 record during that stretch.
It was the second straight game where Coffey played the entire 40 minutes.
"He was terrific," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said about Coffey vs. Northwestern. "He was aggressive. He was in attack mode. He was under control. He was confident. I was going to take him out at one point going into a timeout. He said, 'No, I'm good.' He called that one off. He didn't look tired at all."
Coffey said his success against Northwestern's ball screen defense led to what nearly was a career-high scoring night for him last Thursday. It was one point shy of his career-best 32 points in a win Dec. 5 against Nebraska. The former Hopkins standout still set career-highs with field goals (12), field goal attempts (19) and rebounds.
"They were dropping a little early before they got their (defender) back," Coffey said of Northwestern. "Just leaving some lanes open. Just making some split-second decisions."