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Gophers off to 3-0 start in men's basketball

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Lawrence Westbrook scored 15 points and Ralph Sampson III added eight points, four rebounds and one timely assist to lift Minnesota to a 60-52 victory over Georgia State on Sunday night in the NABC Classic.

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Al Nolen added six points, six assists, four rebounds and five steals for the Gophers (3-0), who won all three games in the round-robin tournament this weekend.

Joe Dukes had 16 points and five assists for Georgia State (1-2).

Both teams were playing their third game in three nights, and it looked like it in a lethargic and sloppy second half.

The Panthers were down by five with 3:30 to play, but Sampson fed Blake Hoffarber for a wide open layup. He then put back his own miss to give the Gophers some breathing room.

Minnesota turned 20 Georgia State turnovers into 21 points.

The Gophers also beat Bowling Green and Concordia-St. Paul.

The Gophers jumped out to a big lead with about 8 minutes to go in the first half, when Jamal Abu-Shamala got his hands on an interior pass and went the other way to Colton Iverson for a fast-break dunk.

That started a 15-4 run that Sampson finished with a layup to give Minnesota a 35-18 lead. It was the 11th turnover of the half for Georgia State. The Gophers turned those mistakes into 17 points to build a 12-point cushion going into halftime.

The Panthers scored the first six points of the second half to cut the lead to 35-29 and hung around for the remainder of the game by getting their hands on lazy passes from Minnesota and getting out in transition.

The Gophers committed 10 turnovers in the second half to allow Georgia State, from the same Colonial Athletic Association that produced former Final Four darling George Mason, to hang around.

Xavier Hansbro's 3-pointer from the right elbow trimmed the lead to 50-45 with 3:30 to play. But Sampson made a pretty low post move and found Hoffarber for the layup and then put back his own miss on the next possession to push the cushion back to nine points.

After throwing a block party on Saturday night against the Falcons -- setting a school record with 17 blocked shots, nine by Iverson -- Minnesota relied on fast hands a little bit of grit to outlast Georgia State.

The Gophers had 11 steals and Sampson had to leave the game briefly in the first half to get a cut over his left eye bandaged, but he returned to have an impact in the second half.

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