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Minnesota trounces High Point, remains undefeated

Dec 29, 2008 - 3:03 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Freshman Ralph Sampson III scored a career-high 17 points as No. 23 Minnesota used a hot-shooting night to cruise to an 82-56 victory over High Point on Sunday.

Lawrence Westbrook added 13 points and Devron Bostick and Devoe Joseph chipped in 11 apiece for the Golden Gophers (12-0), who remained the lone undefeated Big Ten team.

Minnesota is off to its best start since winning its first 13 games to start the 1948-49 season.

"I thought our guys played with purpose," Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. "We played with good concentration and good focus (Saturday). You're always worried that the team might be looking ahead to the holiday break, but this was a good performance for us.

"It feels good to get things started off right," Bostick said. "Now our goal is to just keep that going into the Big Ten season."

The Gophers open conference play against No. 18 Michigan State on Wednesday.

"A lot of guys had a chance to get out there and perform tonight," Smith said. "I think that will give us a lot of confidence, especially going into Big Ten play against Michigan State. Blake (Hoffarber), Devron (Bostick) and Devoe (Joseph) were the ones that really helped us to pull away. That shows that they're getting better, they're learning the system. They are starting to understand where their shots are going to come from and how hard we're going to play.

Sampson, who is the son of former NCAA Player of the Year and NBA All-Star Ralph Sampson Jr., shot 7-of-10 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds while blocking two shots.

The Gophers shot 52 percent (32-of-62) from the floor, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range. Minnesota dominated on the glass as well, out-rebounding the Panthers, 36-27.

The Gophers broke the game open in the first half with a 29-7 run over the final 9:10 of the opening frame. Sampson and Westbrook scored 11 points apiece in the first half to help Minnesota cruise into the break with a 49-23 advantage.

"For 32 minutes we played decent basketball," High Point head coach Bart Lundy. "But it was that seven or eight minute stretch in the first half where we lost our intensity and turned the ball over and Minnesota hit a bunch of threes. You have to give them credit, they turned us over and they made the shots."

Sampson's jumper with 7:46 to play gave the Gophers their biggest lead of the game, 75-45.

Eugene Harris scored 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting and Steadman Short added 13 for the Panthers (4-8), who shot 34 percent (19-of-56) en route to their third consecutive setback.

"I thought Steadman (Short) really played hard," Lundy said. "He's been getting better each game, but we have to be better as a team. I thought we need to do a better job hitting our shots and getting our rebounds. We won't play a better team than Minnesota and we have to do those things to win."

    --- --- -----
    HIGH POINT 23 33 56
    MINNESOTA (23) 49 33 82 FINAL

    Dec 28 8:50 PM
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    High Point 23, Minnesota(23) 49  HalfDec 28 7:53 PM


    Dec 28 7:50 PM