DES MOINES – Jordan Murphy isn’t missing the Gophers’ next game.
A back injury the senior forward suffered during Thursday’s 86-76 victory over Louisville knocked him down, but not out. The 6-7 All-Big Ten first-teamer left the game briefly in the second half after falling hard on a foul, but Murphy returned to finish with 13 of his 18 points in the second half.
In the second round Saturday, the Gophers will need Murphy at his best against No. 2 seed Michigan State, who won the Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament titles.
“I’ll for sure be back,” Murphy said. “That’s a game I’m definitely not missing. I’m going to figure something out. There’s no doubt about that.”
With 14:44 left in the second half, Murphy fell on his back after getting fouled. He remained in the game to sink one of two free throws but was in obvious pain. He hit a short jumper in the lane before checking out and getting his back examined by team trainer Ben Felz behind the bench.
“My back just locked up on me,” he said. “I felt really old … it’s nothing too serious.”
Murphy might not be that old, but he’s been around long enough to surpass Willie Burton for No. 2 on the Gophers’ career scoring list with 1,802 points. He needed 16 points Thursday to tie Burton’s mark. The San Antonio native is already the top rebounder in school history, so he’s solidifying his spot as one of the best Gophers ever with individual and team success.
“It’s a really cool accomplishment to have something like that,” Murphy said. “It means a lot for my career, but I just want to move on in the tournament and get these wins.”
Senior center Matz Stockman missed his second consecutive game with a concussion, but his teammates were able to beat his former team. Stockman played his first three seasons with the Cardinals before transferring to play for the Gophers in 2017. The 7-footer from Norway was at the arena, but he didn’t join his teammates on the bench.
Replacing Stockman’s frontcourt spot off the bench were freshman Jarvis Omersa and junior Michael Hurt, who played a combined 14 minutes. Starting center Daniel Oturu had 13 points and six rebounds.
Star in the stands
Actor Bill Murray attended Thursday’s game wearing Louisville colors to support his son, Luke, who followed Chris Mack from Xavier as an assistant this season.