MINNEAPOLIS — Freshman Daniel Oturu posted season highs with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Dupree McBrayer chipped in 14 points for Minnesota in a 72-56 win against Arkansas State on Saturday.
Oturu had his first double-double and added three blocks for the Gophers (8-2). Amir Coffey finished with 12 points as Minnesota cruised to the win after starting the game with a 21-2 run.
Oturu, the 6-foot-10 center, had struggled at times early in his first season while adapting to size and physicality inside as Minnesota’s scheduled featured seven games against major conference programs.
He took advantage of his size against an Arkansas State team, which has 6-9 J.J. Matthews as the tallest starter. Oturu had his first double-digit rebounding effort and was one off his high of four blocks.
McBrayer, Coffey and freshman Gabe Kalscheur propelled the Gophers to their quick start. Kalscheur had six of his nine points, while McBrayer and Coffey each had five points in the opening run.
Minnesota would lead by as many as 21, while outrebounding the Red Wolves 44-37 and holding Arkansas State to 31 percent shooting.
Arkansas State: The first big test of the season for the Red Wolves was a disappointment. Minnesota’s opening burst buried Arkansas State and it never recovered. The Red Wolves did play competitively the rest of the way, perhaps a good sign when they get into Sun Belt Conference play.
Minnesota: After a series of games against Power Five conferences, Minnesota’s scheduled lightened a bit starting with the Red Wolves. The Gophers accomplished what it should have: a confidence-building win with no injuries. They hope for the same the rest of December before going to Wisconsin on Jan. 3.
Arkansas State returns home against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 14.
Minnesota hosts North Florida on Tuesday.