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Northwestern 55, Minnesota 48

The SportsXchange

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern knocked off its second Top 25 team in six days as Jared Swopshire scored 16 points and Reggie Hearn added 13 in a 55-48 upset victory over No.12 Minnesota on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (12-8, 3-4) extended their home winning streak over the Gophers to five as Tre Demps added 10.

Minnesota, which entered the game tops in Big Ten field-goal shooting percentage (37-for-79 for 46.8 percent) missed 12 consecutive long-distance tries and closed at 5-for-19 (26.3 percent).

Trevor Mbakwe led the Gophers, now losers of three straight, with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Northwestern rallied from a 34-27 second half deficit behind six points from Hearn and grabbed a 40-39 lead with 10:25 to play on Alex Marcotullio's 3-pointer.

Three minutes later, Demps dropped a baseline 3-pointer that launched a 10-2 Northwestern run on the way to a 50-41 lead with 3:44 to play.

Minnesota (15-4, 3-3) replied with a Julian Welch jumper and a tip in by Mbakwe with 1:44 left to trim the Northwestern lead to 50-45.

The Wildcats hit 2 of 5 free throws over next 70 seconds -- one apiece by Sobolewski and Swopshire -- to open a 52-45 lead. Andre Hollins broke a lengthy Minnesota 3-point shooting slump with a long-distance shot with 35 seconds left.

But Hearn secured the win by hitting hit 3 of 4 free throws in the last 28 seconds.

Minnesota's 48 points was a season low.

The Gophers held a tenuous 27-24 halftime edge after leading much of the opening 20 minutes.

Minnesota had four three-pointers to open an early 14-12 then missed nine straight over the next 13 minutes. Instead, the Gophers tried working closer inside and also connected on 4-of-5 free throws to open a 27-19 lead with about 4:50 left.

But Northwestern closed the half with five unanswered points, including a buzzer-beating jumper by Demps that cut Minnesota's lead to just three.

Wildcat forward Swopshire scored eight points in the first 4:30 and closed the half with a game-high 10 points. Mbakwe topped the Gophers with seven points.

Wildcat coach Bill Carmody sat freshman Kale Abrahamson, who had started six straight Big Ten games but had scored only five points in his last three. Demps, a redshirt freshman, got the start instead -- his first in conference play.

NOTES: Minnesota was the third straight ranked foe for Northwestern. The Wildcats split the first two games, beating No. 23 Illinois 68-54 at Assembly Hall on Jan. 17 and then falling to No. 2 Indiana 67-59 last Sunday. ... Gopher guard Andre Hollins earned mention among the Big Ten's top performers this week after posting a career-high 21 points last week against Michigan. Entering Wednesday, he was 16 of 27 in 3-point shooting in his last four games, best in the Big Ten in that span. ... Hearn was also cited by the league for 20 points in a road win at Illinois and 22 last Sunday at home against Indiana ... Northwestern had four straight wins at home over Minnesota going back to 2009, but the Gophers had two straight victories coming in -- a Big Ten tourney win last March and a 69-51 victory at Williams Arena on Jan. 6. Minnesota led by just three at halftime in that game but blew it open in the second half as Hollins closed with 19 points ... Both teams are on the road Saturday with Minnesota at Wisconsin and Northwestern visiting Nebraska.
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