Virginia 86, Minnesota 78
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)—No distractions for Elton Brown meant no comparison to the player who struggled in his first three games, and a big victory for Virginia in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Brown scored a career-high 26 points and ignited a tiebreaking 13-1 second-half run Wednesday night, lifting the young Cavaliers (4-0) to an 86-78 victory over Minnesota in fifth series between the leagues.
“Coach told me he was going to really need me this game,” said Brown, who had struggled in the first half of Virginia’s first three games. “My first three games I didn’t have my games I usually play.”
This time, he was sharp from the start, scoring 11 points in the first half as Virginia took a 35-34 lead, then seven in the winning run.
“It was crunch time,” Brown said. “We can’t lose. If we lose at home, it would have been crazy the next day, because of rebounding especially.”
Virginia was getting beaten 40-19 on the boards and losing its edge when a 12-4 run allowed the Golden Gophers (2-2) to pull even at 61.
Then Brown’s driving layin fell as he was fouled. He finished the three-point play and Virginia finally pulled away to gain control.
The Cavaliers rallied to lose the rebounding battle by just 51-40, and the 6-foot-9 Brown grabbed several down the stretch, finishing with six.
“I think he played with more energy, he played tougher, a little bit more physical,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said of Brown. “He played like a man instead of getting frustrated, getting upset at little things.”
The victory gave the Atlantic Coast Conference a 7-2 edge in the series this season, the fifth time in as many years it has prevailed.
The Cavaliers had seen a nine-point lead evaporate in a span of 3:14 as the Gophers pulled even at 61 with 8:20 to play. But Minnesota went nearly four minutes without a basket, Brown’s layup off a turnover and two free throws giving the Cavaliers a 74-62 advantage with 4:04 to play.
For the bigger Gophers, the fast pace was too much.
“We didn’t want it to be a half-court game,” Gillen said.
“They did a great job of getting us out of our rhythm offensively,” Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. “We were just coming from behind so much.”
Minnesota lost despite 32 points and 13 rebounds from freshman Kris Humphries, 20 points from Michael Bauer and the rebounding advantage.
The Gophers also committed 18 turnovers to Virginia’s nine.
Virginia freshman Gary Forbes also played a big role in the run, scoring four of his 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds overall and blocking a shot by Humphries to get a fast break started during the pullaway.
Derrick Byars added 16 points and nine rebounds for Virginia.